The High Cost of Rampant Evictions: $315 Million a Year in Harris County, Texas

Evictions incur immense costs for the public and nonprofit sector, according to new analysis from the Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

2 minute read

September 20, 2020, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


COVID-19 Eviction Crisis

Steve Heap / Shutterstock

"Researchers at the Kinder Institute for Urban Research estimate that in Harris County, the public and private sectors spend $315,680,000 per year addressing the county’s uniquely large mass-eviction crisis," report Stephen Averill Sherman and Carlos Villegas. Those figures only include the costs already enumerated as the most obvious externalities of eviction, but many more expenses are likely hiding downstream of the eviction process, according to the article. 

The article notes that evictions occur in "alarmingly high" numbers in Harris County, where Houston is located, according to data cited in the article from Eviction Lab. Therein lies both a problem, and potential solutions, according to Sherman and Villegas:

Houston is not an unusually poor major city, nor does Harris County have an unusually high share of renters (as seen in Table 1, it’s somewhere around the median for the top 10). Therefore, the eviction crisis seems endemic to discrete policies and legal practices within the state and region. But there are ways to address these challenges. Small, inexpensive policies, such as free legal assistance in eviction court, benefit not only the tenant but the bottom line for Harris County’s public coffers, shelters and charity medical providers.

Officials from Harris County and the city of Houston formed a Housing Stability Task Force in June, according to the article, with the Kinder Institute offering technical assistance, but some of the recommendations of the task force have yet to be implemented by county and city officials.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020 in Rice Kinder Institute for Urban Research: The Urban Edge

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

May 21, 2024 - The Architect's Newspaper

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Ornate, tan stone capitol building with a gold dome roof and low-rise city buildings in the background.

States Are Banning Guaranteed Income Programs

Four states now have laws in place that prevent cities and counties from creating or continuing guaranteed income programs, and several more have tried or are trying.

May 23, 2024 - Bloomberg CityLab

3D rendering of blue flying car over a cityscape and buildings, a river, and bridges in the background.

Minnesota Legalizes Flying Cars

A new Minnesota law outlines state registration of “roadable aircraft” and legalizes their use on state roads and highways.

55 minutes ago - The U.S. Sun

Green highway signs on Highway 23 for Ann Arbor and Flint, Michigan.

Michigan DOT Nixes Ann Arbor Highway Expansion

In response to public feedback, the Michigan Department of Transportation is no longer considering options to widen U.S. 23 on Ann Arbor’s east side.

1 hour ago - MLive

View of downtown Dallas, Texas skyline with skyscrapers against twilight sky.

Dallas Hopes to Boost Economy With TV and Film Tax Breaks

The Dallas city council voted unanimously to request a designation from the state that would allow the city to offer sales and use tax exemptions for redevelopment of TV and film production facilities.

May 27 - The Dallas Morning News

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.