The Effect of State and Local Housing Policies on County-Level Rent and Evictions in the United States, 2004-2016
63 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2020 Last revised: 7 Jul 2021
Date Written: July 6, 2021
Housing instability is a constant fact of life for many people in the United States – a fact which is made more urgent and salient during periods of economic disruption such as that caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A relatively new line of research has illuminated the degree to which housing instability, in the form of eviction, is a substantial contributor to health risks, such as “deaths of despair” from alcohol or drug-related accidental poisonings. While eviction is a persistent threat in the U.S., there is almost no research available to guide decision makers about which policies are more or less effective at lowering evictions. We provide a theoretical framework of the eviction process, highlighting the role that policy might be expected to play in determining the level of local evictions. We test association between policies, local rent, and evictions for nearly all U.S. counties from 2004-2016 with a panel of state-level landlord-tenant laws and a panel of local housing-specific investments by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. We find evidence that some state and local policies are effective at reducing the number of evictions without increasing average rental costs.
Keywords: eviction, public policy
JEL Classification: O18, K25, R38
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation