Evictions and Housing Stability
Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM
- Chair: James X. Sullivan, University of Notre Dame
Does Eviction Cause Poverty? Quasi-experimental Evidence from Cook County, IL
AbstractEach year more than two million U.S. households have an eviction case filed against them. Influential work in sociology has hypothesized that eviction is a cause, and not merely a consequence, of poverty. This paper uses the near-universe of eviction court cases in Cook County, IL for 2000-2016, linked to credit bureau and payday loans data, to provide evidence on the link between eviction and financial strain. We first provide new descriptive evidence showing that there is significant distress and an increase in demand for high interest loans in the run-up to eviction court for both evicted and non-evicted tenants. We then estimate the causal effect of an eviction order on financial strain, proxies for durable goods consumption, household moves, and neighborhood quality, leveraging the random assignment of cases to judges in eviction court for identification. The effects are small relative to the financial strain experienced by tenants in the run-up to eviction court.
Does Emergency Financial Assistance Reduce Crime?
AbstractDoes emergency financial assistance reduce criminal behavior among those experiencing negative shocks? To address this question, we exploit quasi-random variation in the allocation of temporary financial assistance to eligible individuals and families that have experienced an income or housing shock. Chicago’s Homelessness Prevention Call Center (HPCC) connects such families and individuals with assistance, but the availability of funding varies unpredictably. Consequently, we can determine the impact of temporary assistance on crime by comparing outcomes for those who call when funds are available to those who call when no funds are available. Linking this call center information to arrest records from the Chicago Police Department, we find some evidence that total arrests fall between 1 and 2 years after the call. For violent crime, police arrest those referred to funds 55 percent less often than those not referred to funds. Single individuals drive this decrease. The decline in crime is related, in part, to greater housing stability—being referred to assistance significantly decreases arrests for homelessness-related, outdoor crimes such as trespassing. However, we also find that financial assistance leads to an increase in property crime arrests, which contrasts with what would be expected from a simple economic model of criminal behavior. This increase is evident for family heads, but not single individuals; the increase is mostly due to shoplifting; and the timing of this increase suggests that financial assistance enables some families to take on financial obligations that they are subsequently unable to meet. Overall, the change in the mix of crime induced by financial assistance generates considerable social benefits due to the greater social cost of violence.
- I3 - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
- R3 - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location