Study of Evictions in Kansas City Provides Insight Into a National Problem
Tara Raghuveer of the Kansas City Eviction Project discusses the findings of an analysis of eviction data from metropolitan Kansas City, Missouri, from 1999 to 2017. Eviction rates averaged about 9,000 a year consistently over this time period. But Raghuveer points out that these are only formal evictions, and the total number of forced moves is likely much higher.
Nonpayment of rent was the most common reason for eviction filings, and this figure has increased considerably since 2012. According to Raghuveer, race is an important factor related to evictions, with higher eviction rates among black residents and in black neighborhoods, even when income is held constant.
The study also found that almost all eviction cases that made it to the landlord-tenant docket in 2017 were decided in favor of the landlord. For cases from 2006 to 2016, most landlords had legal representation while very few tenants had lawyers. In addition, the rise of limited liability companies and the protections they provide to property owners have made it more difficult to hold landlords accountable, according to Raghuveer.
The large number of informal convictions, those happening outside of the court system, means these findings only provide part of the picture. In the long run, says Raghuveer, Kansas City and other cities facing similar challenges must pursue effective affordable housing policies and strategies to stem the flow of evictions.