University of Washington Study Discovers a Huge Racial Gap in Eviction Rates

A new University of Washington study of eviction rates in Washington State found that Black adults are almost seven times more likely to be evicted from their homes than White adults.

The disparities are among the findings in the Evictions Study, created by a team of University of Washington researchers and led by Tim Thomas, a postdoctoral researcher now at the University of California, Berkeley. Based on eviction filings from each of Washington’s 39 counties, the report and its series of interactive maps illustrate where, and to whom, evictions hit hardest.

Eviction — the forcible removal of a tenant, usually due to unpaid rent — starts with a filing in court by a landlord. The process of notification, response, and hearing before a judge is generally the same across the country, but how much time tenants are given to respond, for example, can vary by state.

“Our research shows that evictions are pervasive, where between 2013 and 2017, 1 in 55 Washington adults were named in an eviction filing — over 400,000 adults between 2004 and 2017,” said Dr. Thomas. “The most concerning finding is the severe over-representation of Black adults in the Western Washington eviction filing process. In Pierce County, 1 in 6 Black adults were named in a filing between 2013 and 2017, and 1 in 11 in King County during that same time. For Whites, it’s 1 in 55 and 1 in 100, respectively. This severe racial disparity makes evictions a civil rights issue.”

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  1. I can think of many race-neutral reasons for such a gap: a higher fertility rate and a higher percentage of financially insecure, single-mother households in the black community; low and stagnant wages and salaries for working class blacks (in part due to the lax enforcement of immigration laws by the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations); a high concentration of black households in the nation’s most expensive urban centers; higher black “no-show” rates in court, etc.

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