National research has shed light on who is more likely to face eviction: Black and Latinx renters, renters with lower-income, and women. Still, national data on the demographics of eviction can be hard to come by. Crucial demographic information, such as income, race, gender, and sexual orientation, are rarely collected during the eviction process. Other illuminating details, such as household size, the cost of rent, and type of rental agreement, similarly go uncaptured on a national level.
However, the EDDP program’s client intakes, coupled with Dane CORE data, sheds light on some of these important questions.
EDDP staff completed detailed questionnaires with nearly a third of households who had evictions filed against them since January 1, 2021 – a total of 670 households. Although this data is not exhaustive and may slightly over-represent certain marginalized groups due to prioritizing these individuals for legal representation, it is still a useful and uncommonly detailed snapshot of who is facing eviction in Dane County.
For every one eviction filed, two people faced losing their home, on average. In all, 1657 people faced eviction across 670 filings, including nearly 800 children. More than one third of those were single parents.
Roughly half of the tenants that faced eviction were Black/African American (52%), despite making up just 8% of all renter households in Dane County, according to the latest Census data. Whites amounted to 28% of all tenants with an eviction action, with the remainder comprising small percentages of Native Hawaiians, American Indians, Asians and those who preferred not to reveal their race or did not know. Eighty-five tenants (12%) were Hispanic/Latinx.
More than 6 out of 10 tenants were women, mirroring other research which shows that women are both more likely to be renters and to face eviction. The average tenant was 40 years old, although some were as young as 20 and as old as 80.
Nearly 40% of tenants reported having a disability and 15% reported having multiple disabilities. In all, at least 120 tenants with which we have a detailed questionnaire identified having a mental health diagnosis; 98 had a physical disability; 83 had a chronic health condition; and 47 had a developmental disability.
The average tenant had an area median income (AMI) of 20%, according to TRC data which linked 454 households that both completed an EDDP intake and completed a CORE application. Anyone under 30% AMI is deemed “extremely low-income” by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Unsurprisingly, then, tenants paid a significant portion of their income on housing: the average tenant was severely-cost burdened, meaning they paid more than half of their income on rent alone.
A total of 258 households were severely-cost burdened. According to the 2019 Dane County Housing Needs Assessment, there are 13,050 severely-cost burdened households in the county.
Behind the spate of evictions in Dane County is a dearth of affordable housing. Just 15% of the renters we analyzed lived in units deemed affordable (those costing less than one-third of a renter’s income), with the average monthly rent being $1,094. The average household owed two-and-a-half months of rent at the time of filing and 13% of households received rental subsidies. 84% percent of tenants had leases which authorized late fees, the average fee totaling nearly $50, and another 10% of tenants had been charged for late fees not authorized by their leases. For more information about junk fees and unauthorized charges, please see our Q1 report which provides additional details on the problematic nature of these charges for renters.
An aggravating factor making households less secure were the types of leases they had. Roughly 30% of tenants totaling 134 households had either a month-to-month lease or were tenants-at-will. Longer term leases offer more stability for tenants because these leases cannot be terminated without good cause, unlike month-to-month leases which landlords can terminate at any point in the rental agreement through a with a 28-day notice or less in some circumstances.