Mar 20, 2023 - News

Evictions are climbing in Tampa Bay

Eviction filings in Tampa Bay
Reproduced from Eviction Lab; Chart: Axios Visuals

Eviction filings in Tampa Bay continue to exceed pre-pandemic levels, according to data from the Eviction Lab.

Driving the news: The Princeton University project tracked 1,605 eviction filings in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties last month, which is up 24% from the historical average.

  • Evictions are also up year over year. Eviction Lab's most recent data, which covers the week ending March 4, shows a more than 25% increase in average filings from the same period in 2022.

The big picture: Sweeping local and national eviction moratoriums helped keep many families in their homes through the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. With those moratoriums long since over, many Americans are once again exposed to the threat of displacement, Axios' Kavya Beheraj and Alex Fitzpatrick write.

  • That's especially true as high rent prices have renters spending record shares of their paychecks on their monthly housing bills.
  • The eviction crisis tends to disproportionately affect minority groups — particularly Black women, Jacob Haas, an Eviction Lab research specialist, tells Axios.

What they're saying: "We've seen a return to or beyond pre-pandemic averages in a large number of areas where we've been tracking [evictions] data," Haas says.

  • "To return to that is disappointing given all of the initiatives that were taken to prevent housing instability."

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.

Zoom in: Earlier this month, the Florida Senate unanimously passed an affordable housing bill, dubbed the Live Local Act, which would also bar local governments from passing or maintaining any form of rent control.

  • The St. Petersburg Tenants Union has spoken out against the measure, which now heads to the House. William Kilgore, who's part of the group, told CW44 they're concerned about rising rent prices in Pinellas County.
  • "A lot of people are going to be displaced, and many are going to become homeless or are going to have to pack into unsafe conditions," Kilgore said.

What we're watching: House Democrats are fighting to pass a tenant's rights law.

  • HB 1407 would create a statewide agency to focus on tenant advocacy and homeless services, prohibit evictions during a state of emergency declared by the governor and allow victims of domestic violence or stalking to terminate a rental agreement under certain circumstances, among other renter protections.

Editor's note: This story has been updated.

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