MA – On Tuesday, March 22, 2022, Homes for All Massachusetts and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers released a groundbreaking new report, Housing Justice Beyond the Emergency: An Analysis of Racial Inequity in Eviction Filings Across Massachusetts, that reveals the deep racial inequities in evictions throughout Massachusetts during the pandemic.
Black and brown communities disproportionately felt the devastating impacts of COVID-19, including higher rates of infection, job loss, hospitalization, and death at higher rates than white residents. Researcher Eric Robsky Huntley, the report’s lead author, analyzed eviction filing data from October 2020 to October 2021 and found a similar racialized pattern in eviction filing rates. The research also found that concentrated ownership by corporate landlords led to higher eviction filing rates, and that single mothers experienced higher eviction filing rates.
“Housing instability is a statewide problem,” Robsky Huntley said during a webinar marking the release of the report. “We find that housing insecurity caused by eviction filings is most severe in communities of color, particularly in Black and Latinx communities.” The analysis revealed that 43% of evictions filed occured in neighborhoods where the majority of residents identified as Black, Latinx, Asian American/Pacific Islander or Indigenious, despite the fact that only 32% of Massachusetts rental housing falls in those neighborhoods.
The webinar and panel discussion also featured tenants Ramón Cruz of Lynn, Esmirna Cruz of Lawrence, and homeowner Sellou Coley from Springfield, MA who shared powerful testimony illustrating the violence of evictions, including loss of home, displacement from community, difficulty accessing new housing, and declining mental, emotional, and physical health. Homes for All Massachusetts leadership team member Andres Del Castillo moderated the panel and noted that these testimonies illustrate a “national legacy of racism and systemic issues that we see at the local level.”
Just a single eviction event can “take a long-lasting toll on the health of families,” said panelist Dr. Megan Sandel of Children’s Health Watch. “This is not just a one-time impact, this can change the trajectory of a family,” noted Sandel, an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health also affiliated with the GROW clinic at Boston Medical Center. “The report findings only confirm what we have seen in public health research over the last decade on evictions and their impact on ill health. We know these patterns are not by accident.”
“These important findings must inform policymaking at every level, to ensure an equitable recovery,” said Andrea Moon Park, report co-author and Director of Community Driven Advocacy with the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute. “We must be bold and intentional in addressing the housing crisis, or we risk further entrenching racial and gender disparities.”
Report co-author La-Brina Almeida, housing policy analyst at the MassBudget and Policy Center, also joined the panel and contextualized the findings of the report, stating that “This moment is part of a long- standing history of racist housing policy, is undoubtedly influenced by racial capitalism… which cannot be undone without thoughtful anti-racist interventions.”
The organization that released the report, Homes for All Massachusetts, is a statewide coalition of grassroots housing justice groups working to halt displacement, increase community control of land, and win housing justice.The coalition issued a statement urging “immediate action to prevent the inequities identified in this report from being magnified even further as people struggle to recover from a pandemic that is still deeply impacting hard hit communities.”
The group is calling for the state legislature to amend the supplemental budget to plug enormous loopholes in pandemic-era eviction protections, institute foreclosure protections, and halt the Baker administration's plan to suddenly eliminate the ERAP rental assistance program in April. Homes for All Mass is also advocating for legislation to address the underlying crisis of displacement and unaffordability, including TOPA (tenant opportunity to purchase), local-option rent control, and investments in high quality social housing and other forms of community controlled, permanently affordable housing.
Note: video of the report release webinar and the full report including high resolution maps showing data for various cities across MA is available at: http://bitly.com/mass-eviction-report