Mar 21, 2023 - News

Eviction filings surge in Philadelphia

Illustration of a house broken into mismatched puzzle pieces.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Eviction filings in Philadelphia have soared this year compared to 2022 amid rising housing costs and high inflation.

  • That’s according to recent data from the Eviction Lab at Princeton University.

Why it matters: Not only do evictions contribute to a cycle of poverty and instability, but they form a record that private landlords screen for and can thus prevent families from accessing other housing.

What’s happening: Philly averaged 317 eviction filings per week over the four weeks ending March 4, per the Eviction Lab.

  • That’s up nearly 135% over last year and is 264% higher than the weekly average when pandemic moratoriums were in place.
Reproduced from Eviction Lab; Chart: Axios Visuals

Of note: The Eviction Lab notes that 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.

  • That’s significant in Philly, where an estimated 20,000 renters face illegal eviction every year.

Context: Evictions disproportionately affect Black renters, who face filings at more than double the rate of their white counterparts, per a 2021 report from the Reinvestment Fund.

Zoom in: Philly renters facing eviction are also racking up higher debts than in pre-pandemic times.

  • The median "claim amount" — or back rent and late fees — for tenants with eviction filings is now $4,100, which is about double from before the pandemic, per the Eviction Lab.
  • At the same time, a big pot of pandemic-era relief money — nearly $300 million — that was available partly to help families pay their rent is no longer available. The city has allocated only $30 million for a new, more limited program to replace it.

The big picture: The rate of eviction filings has returned to or exceeded pre-pandemic levels in many U.S. cities in recent months, Axios’ Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report.

What they're saying: Carl Gershenson, project director at the Eviction Lab, tells Axios the city needs to continue investing in rental assistance programs and the spike in filings doesn’t yet indicate that the Eviction Diversion Program isn't working.

  • “I’d have to see this trend sustained to say whether we’ve returned to the bad old days,” he said.

Go deeper: The high cost of evictions

Editor's note: This story has been updated.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Philadelphia.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Philadelphia stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Philadelphia.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more