HUD Examines Feasibility of National Evictions Database

Regulation | January 06, 2022 | by Juliana Bilowich

In a recent report to Congress, HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research examined feasibility of creating a national evictions database.

The pandemic has exacerbated devastating housing insecurity; however, evictions have been difficult to track, in part because of the lack of a national evictions database. HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) recently announced its new "Report to Congress on the Feasibility of Creating a National Evictions Database."

The report was submitted in response to the 2021 Appropriations Act, which included report language directing HUD to study the feasibility of creating an evictions database. The database would collect information on three types of evictions:

  • Formal court-ordered evictions
  • Extra-legal evictions
  • Administrative evictions

The House Committee Report also directed HUD to examine and recommend analytical analysis for data collection strategies for characteristics of tenants and landlords involved in the evictions process. 

HUD PD&R conducted research and consulted with various stakeholders to examine the feasibility of an evictions database. The resulting report includes three chapters:

  • Background on the need for an evictions database
  • Discussion of lessons learned to date from efforts to collect data on evictions
  • Potential approaches for HUD to build a national dataset on evictions

While the report looks broadly at evictions nationwide, Chapter 2 includes an examination of lessons learned from evicting HUD-assisted households.

Potential Approaches to Building a National Evictions Database

In order to build a national database, the report assumes additional federal funding from Congress. A number of potential approaches are explored throughout Chapter 3 of the report. 

The first approach considers leveraging existing infrastructure and knowledge, in this case the Eviction Lab at Princeton, which is currently the most comprehensive source of national eviction rates. This approach would take advantage of the existing investments made by the Lab. 

However, an ethical concern is presented by HUD purchasing data compiled by third-party aggregators. Instead the report recommendations that the federal government invest in direct data collection from states. In addition, the report found that the main path to collect data for the entire U.S. and its territories would be to support data infrastructure at the local level. 

In addition, to navigate the issue of inconsistent accessibility of public records, Congress could fund capacity-building grants aimed at each state's capacity to track evictions and make the data accessible. 

The report makes clear that grants for local capacity building should also be accompanied by grants for eviction diversion programs at the state or local level, as well as research grants to further investigate the issue of evictions datasets and linking housing data to other federal data. Each of these approaches would be accompanied by HUD funds to maintain the national database.

The report is available here. LeadingAge supports increased capacity and accessibility of eviction data, as well as investments to prevent evictions among older adults.