Socio-Spatial Insights into Evictions Governance and Tenant Movements During the Covid-19 Pandemic

50 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2023

See all articles by Andrew Crosby

Andrew Crosby

University of Waterloo

Morgan Nordstrom

Carleton University


The COVID-19 pandemic and related economic effects have served to thrust rental housing insecurity into the public spotlight. Documenting the extent of pandemic displacement in the City of Ottawa and province of Ontario, Canada, this article provides insight on evictions governance, urban marginality, and social struggle. The socio-legal developments surrounding pandemic evictions offer a compelling case in which to analyze the governance of urban marginality in its various intricacies. During the pandemic, the Ontario government passed legislation to protect tenants from eviction, yet also passed legislation that criminalized tenants organizing against evictions. Tenants engaged in informal actions to stop evictions were met with the threat of formal legal sanctions; evictions moratoria—as a mechanism of care—were coupled with punitive forms of urban marginality governance, such as through evictions tribunals and the criminalization of dissent. Using a mixed-methods approach, we temporally and spatially map the scale and measure the impact of pre- and post-pandemic evictions—documenting that evictions tend to occur in areas with high core housing need and racialized neighbourhoods. We also examine the emergence of new social movements to fight displacement and assess the varied government and landlord responses—including evictions moratoria, tribunal eviction blocks, and the criminalization of tenant organizing.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic, criminalization, evictions governance, rental housing, tenant organizing, urban marginality

Suggested Citation

Crosby, Andrew and Nordstrom, Morgan, Socio-Spatial Insights into Evictions Governance and Tenant Movements During the Covid-19 Pandemic. Available at SSRN: or

Andrew Crosby (Contact Author)

University of Waterloo ( email )

Waterloo, N2L 3G1

Morgan Nordstrom

Carleton University ( email )

1125 colonel By Drive
Ottawa, K1S 5B6

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