Apr 21, 2022 - News

Local evictions return to pre-pandemic levels

Data: Eviction Lab; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

Evictions in Austin are reaching heights not seen since before the COVID-19 pandemic, with 1,060 new filings in March.

The big picture: Data from Princeton University's Eviction Lab found that the number of filings by Austin landlords has steadily climbed since the beginning of the year, as the local ban on evictions lifted last year and the cost of living increased.

  • Austin, Houston, Fort Worth and Dallas ranked among the top 10 cities — of 31 tracked by Eviction Lab — for new eviction filings in early April.
  • This month's figures for Austin are on track to reach similar levels to those seen in March. There have been 526 eviction filings as of April 16, up 46% from the historic average of 359 filings.

What they're saying: "We are back again where we were right before the pandemic," said Mincho Jacob, a spokesperson for Austin's Building and Strengthening Tenant Action and the Eviction Solidarity Network.

  • The latter organization also tracks local evictions, finding that evictions rose as robust local protections loosened through the end of 2021.

Flashback: A housing report in December found some people who live in the city's predominantly Latino and Black areas spend upwards of 60% of their income on rent.

  • Financial advisers generally recommend spending no more than one-third of income on housing, but soaring property values have led to a domino effect of higher property taxes and rent.
  • Meanwhile, Austin's median rent climbed to roughly $1,700 in February, according to RentCafe.

Zoom in: A new program launched in March allowed Travis County residents to apply for assistance for up to three months of rent or mortgage payments, but a flood of applications forced the country to end the program months early.

  • "That's an extremely large number of applications to have received in such an extremely short period of time," Kirsten Siegfried, division director at Travis County Health and Human Services, told county commissioners in March. "This is a brand-new environment."
  • The county received roughly 4,700 applications, and Jacob said it could be months before applicants see their money.

What to watch: "I think we’re going to be seeing much higher [eviction] numbers as we move on," Jacob told Axios. "It's going to be getting worse."


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