Eviction Lab: a comprehensive database of every eviction proceeding in America for the past 16 years

The Eviction Lab is a collaboration between Princeton University and Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City Paperback; the lab's team gathered the court records of ever landlord-tenant proceeding in every court in every county in America for the past 16 years.

You can use the Lab's interface to slice and dice this data, using both geographic and time-based variables to visualize the increasing pace of evictions in America, which have gone into overdrive since the housing crisis and the big moves of private equity into the landlord business, creating juggernaut-sized slumlords who rip off their tenants and then evict them, churning new suckers into their properties at speed.

In Richmond, most of those evicted never made it to a courtroom. They didn’t appear because the process seemed inscrutable, or because they didn’t have lawyers to navigate it, or because they believed there is not much to say when you simply don’t have the money. The median amount owed was $686.

Inside the courtroom, cases sometimes brought in bulk by property managers are settled in minutes when defendants aren’t present.

“The whole system works on default judgments and people not showing up,” said Martin Wegbreit, director of litigation at the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society. “Imagine if every person asked for a trial. The system would bog down in a couple of months.”

The consequences of what happens here then spread across the city. The Richmond public school system reroutes buses to follow children from apartments to homeless shelters to pay-by-the-week motels. City social workers coach residents on how to fill out job applications when they have no answer for the address line. Families lose their food stamps and Medicaid benefits when they lose the permanent addresses where renewal notices are sent.

Eviction Lab [Matthew Desmond/Princeton]

In 83 Million Eviction Records, a Sweeping and Intimate New Look at Housing in America [Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui/New York Times]

Counting the millions of evictions [Alan White/Credit Slips]

(via Naked Capitalism)

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