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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.
September 20, 2020, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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COVID-19 Eviction Crisis
Steve Heap

"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.

Full Story:
Published on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 in Rice Kinder Institute for Urban Research: The Urban Edge
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