Over 20,000 Chicago evictions predicted once Governor’s moratorium is lifted Research shows ongoing racial disparities in eviction filings, need for emergency rental assistance

"The landlord cut off my lights and heat and forced me to move," says Auburn Gresham resident Tamy, "It was the day after my birthday." Tamy, a client of Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH), is one of many renters who despite Governor JB Pritzker’s eviction moratorium have experienced an illegal lockout or unlawful eviction.

At a virtual town hall forum on Thursday, December 17, LCBH announced a new report, "Eviction Filings, Unemployment, and the Impact of COVID 19," in partnership with Loyola University Chicago's Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL). The report uses statistical modeling of the historical relationship between unemployment and eviction filings to address concerns about a possible wave of eviction filings due to COVID-19. Chicago may see as many as 21,000 formal evictions in the first month after the moratorium is lifted, according to the model. For comparison, prior to the health crisis, the average number of eviction filings the first two months of 2020 was 1,567. The forum also discussed informal evictions and the much larger number of renters at-risk of displacement due to COVID-19.

Mark Swartz, LCBH’s Executive Director, said, "Renters who have lost their jobs shouldn’t have to fear losing their homes in the middle of this pandemic. A federal moratorium coupled with rental assistance that helps both renters and landlords is the best response at this time."

LCBH also announced an expansion to its Chicago Evictions Data Portal with the release of new data for the years 2018 and 2019. LCBH had previously launched the portal in May 2019 as a resource to help researchers, policy makers, and advocates investigate Chicago’s chronic eviction problem using eviction court data from years 2010 to 2017.

LCBH reported that while the overall eviction filing rate (eviction filings per 100 rental units) decreased slightly with the addition of 2018 and 2019 data, from 3.9 to 3.7, troubling trends have continued. Notably, LCBH found that majority Black areas continue to have eviction filing rates that were substantially higher than in other parts of the city. The new data show that majority Black areas had eviction filing rates five times higher than majority White areas, while rates in Latinx neighborhoods were twice as high as those in White areas.

This trend is important given that Black and Latinx households are more likely to be renting than whites, and the majority of Black and Latinx households are cost burdened compared to only 40% of whites. "We are concerned that the spike in eviction filings will be more heavily felt by Chicago’s Black and Latinx families," Swartz added.

The analysis is based on a review of Chicago residential eviction court records of cases filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County and unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Reports as well as data, along with additional analysis and methods, can be accessed on the Chicago Evictions Data Portal at https://eviction.lcbh.org.

If you missed the forum, you can download the presentation here and watch the video below.