A new bill backed by more than a dozen House Democrats would create a national database to comprehensively track evictions across the U.S., and launch a federal committee to puzzle out new policies to help keep people from being removed from their homes.
Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., on Thursday introduced the We Need Eviction Data Now Act, days before the federal eviction moratorium set by the first coronavirus relief package expired July 25. Some states issued their own eviction moratoriums following the coronavirus’ emergence and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Sunday said the next rendition of COVID-19-induced relief will lengthen the now-expired federal hold. Still, the bill also comes as fears of mass displacement are mounting—one expert warns up to 28 million people could face evictions in the months to come.
“If the federal government does not step in quickly with additional measures to prevent evictions, we will surely see a wave of evictions across the country. In addition to the hardship that comes with families losing their home, mass evictions, unlike anything we have seen in modern history, are expected to produce a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic,” DeLauro said in a statement. “Not only is the federal government not prepared to support those who have been evicted, but we also do not even have a way of tracking this displacement.”
The newly introduced, 22-page legislation, shared with Nextgov Monday, would require the Housing and Urban Development Secretary to produce and maintain a comprehensive resource encompassing data on court-ordered evictions, administrative evictions and illegal evictions in the U.S. The information captured would be accessed by HUD’s Offices of Policy Development and Research, and Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity—and other department officials chosen by the secretary. The agency would also be responsible for securing the data and launching a technological solution that can provide a single point of entry for certain users. The bill details the range of insights that the database would house including specific information on tenants and landlords in some eviction cases, as well as certain aggregate data that can present bigger-picture percentages and highlights across cases captured. The secretary would be responsible for promulgating rules around data submissions, standards and sharing.
Additionally, the act would establish a grant program to compensate local governments and nonprofits for collecting data on illegal evictions in America and the database itself would incorporate aggregate data, breaking down that number based on gender, race, ethnicity—and more. A Committee on Eviction Research would also be established under the legislation. Specifically, that committee would be composed of 14 members who work to “develop a research agenda to determine the causes and consequences of evictions,” help illuminate “policies or practices that reduce the number of evictions or mitigate the consequences of evictions,” and more. Within 90 days of termination, that committee would be expected to report on practices that hold potential to help reduce evictions and ultimately present eviction trends by race, age, immigration status, gender—and beyond.
“We are days away from a wave of evictions that will sweep across the country and our federal government still refuses to see the daily injustice of uprooting families from their homes,” Kennedy said in a statement. “We cannot confront the trauma of an eviction crisis if we do not fully understand its reach and its disparate impacts on communities of color. With the We Need Eviction Data Now Act, we can force this administration and our government to open their eyes to the devastation this practice causes and force Congress to respond.”
Introduced by DeLauro and Kennedy, the bill was co-sponsored by 17 house Democrats. Upon introduction, the act was referred to the Committee on Financial Services.