Mar 27, 2023 - News

Nashville evictions exceed pre-pandemic average

Eviction filings in Nashville
Reproduced from Eviction Lab; Chart: Axios Visuals

Eviction filings in Nashville are exceeding pre-pandemic levels, according to data from the Eviction Lab.

  • That's a Princeton University project aiming to fill an "information hole in the center of the evictions crisis" by collecting data from court filings and other sources, research specialist Jacob Haas tells Axios.

Driving the news: Sweeping local and national eviction moratoriums helped keep many families in their homes through the heart of the pandemic. With those moratoriums long since over, many Americans are once again exposed to the threat of displacement.

Of note: The Eviction Lab said its data doesn't capture illegal evictions or cases where renters are effectively forced out by large rent hikes, and it may be undercounting recent evictions due to processing delays.

What's happening: Nashville averaged 279 eviction filings per week over the four weeks prior to Feb. 4, per the Eviction Lab.

  • That's a 66% increase year over year.
  • Average weekly eviction filings hovered around 115 during the moratorium period.

State of play: Local housing advocates say numbers could continue to rise. The state stopped taking applications for pandemic rent relief funding earlier this year.

Zoom in: Some local efforts have emerged to help people facing eviction. Last year, the Metro Council put $2.6 million toward Eviction Right to Counsel, a pilot program that pairs people with legal assistance and helps them navigate the court system.

  • The pilot is a joint effort among the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, Conexión Américas, and the Nashville Hispanic Bar Association.

Julie Yriart, the legal director at the Hispanic Bar Association, works on the program. She tells Axios the pandemic opened doors to different ways of helping people, but more is needed to make a substantial dent.

  • Right now, the program has limited staffing and can only reach a fraction of the people who need help.
  • "Our hope is that Nashville will see the benefit of this program — both for tenants and landlords," Yriart says.

The big picture: Elizabeth Leiserson, the project director at the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, tells Axios the rising cost of housing in Nashville underscores the urgency of their work.

  • "It's made it increasingly important to help people stay in whatever housing they have found."

Go deeper: Last month, WPLN dedicated an episode of their daily show "This is Nashville" to explaining evictions and exploring resources for tenants.

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