LSC Briefing: Evictions and the COVID-19 Pandemic

June 25, 2020

Matthew Desmond, author of the Pulitzer-Prize winning book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, joined LSC President Ronald S. Flagg to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to spark an unprecedented spike of evictions across the country. Desmond is the Maurice P. During Professor of Sociology at Princeton University, where he founded and leads the Evictions Lab. His team built the first national database of evictions.

As the pandemic disrupts the lives and financial security of people across the country, housing experts are warning of a growing evictions crisis. The Department of Labor recorded an increase of more than 40 million unemployed Americans between February and May. Unemployment has hit renters particularly hard, given that they make up a disproportionate share of service sector jobs that disappeared under stay-at-home orders. According to the Urban Institute, nearly half of renters ages 18 to 64 reported difficulties paying for rent or utilities.

LSC Vice President for Grants Management Lynn Jennings moderated a discussion with civil legal providers and a judge who are bracing for a surge in eviction rates. The speakers will include Annamarie Johnson, Executive Director, Nevada Legal Services; Edward Josephson, Director of Litigation and Housing, Legal Service NYC; Judge Sergio L. De Leon, Justice of the Peace Court 5, Tarrant County, Texas; and Maria Thomas-Jones, Executive Director, Legal Aid of Northwest Texas.