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Examining Pandemic Eviction Policies on Racial Inequalities in Mortality

In this project, we will evaluate the effects of pandemic eviction prevention policies on mortality. Stagnant wages and rising rents over the last several decades have led to extreme housing cost burden in the US and forced millions of renters to face the threat of eviction each year. The pandemic further exacerbated this crisis, resulting in devastating job and wage loss, especially for Black, Hispanic, and female renters who already experienced the highest rates of housing insecurity.

To prevent a flood of evictions, federal, state, and local policymakers established a range of eviction prevention policies, most notably eviction moratoria and emergency rental assistance also known as the (ERA). These policies varied across the country in how, when and for how long they were implemented, creating large variations in eviction risk. We exploit that variation to evaluate the effects of eviction on mortality and inequalities in mortality. In so doing, we provide insight into the potential for eviction prevention policies to advance health equity.

The project has three aims:

  1. We examine the effect of eviction filings on all-cause adult mortality by age, race/ethnicity, and gender using a unique linkage of individual eviction filing records and mortality data. We also estimate the number of lives saved by eviction prevention policies and project mortality gains had more protective measures been comprehensively implemented.
  2. We analyze the effects of eviction prevention policies on county-level mortality using a difference-and-differences framework. We analyze how the staggered lifting of eviction moratoria (2020) and disbursal of ERA (2021-22) affected all-cause, cause- specific, and age-specific adult mortality, with a focus on racial/ethnic and gender variations in these associations.
  3. We explore the lived experience of eviction prevention policies using in-depth interview data collected with a diverse sample of renters across two distinct policy landscapes (Bridgeport, CT and Columbus, OH). Housing policy has played a significant role in producing racial inequalities. Our project identifies the potential for housing policies to redress these harms and advance health equity.

This research is funded by the National Institutes of Health (R01NR020748).

Principal Investigators:

  • Peter Hepburn, Professor of Sociology, Rutgers University
  • Danya Keene, Professor of Public Health, Yale University

Co-Investigators and Research Team:

  • Emily Benfer, Professor of Law, Wake Forest University
  • Matthew Desmond, Professor of Sociology, Princeton University
  • Andrew Fenelon, Professor of Public Policy, Penn State University
  • Nick Gaetz, Princeton University
  • Carl Gershenson, Princeton University
  • Tricia Lewis, Professor of Health Science, Sacred Heart University
  • Julia Raifman, Professor of Health Law, Policy & Management, Boston University
  • Kimberly Vasquez, MPH, Multicenter Project Manager, Yale Center for Clinical Investigation