Although many renters continue to suffer financially due to the pandemic, predictions that COVID-19 would trigger a “tsunami” of evictions have not come to pass and stemmed largely from faulty data, suggests a report published today by the California Apartment Association and prepared by Beacon Economics.
Overblown forecasts that 30 to 40 million Americans might face eviction derived substantially from statistical issues with the U.S. Census Bureau’s high frequency Household Pulse Survey (HPS), asserts the Beacon analysis, “The Rental Eviction Crisis: A Tsunami That Never Reached the Shoreline.”
“The biggest issue with the HPS is that it doesn’t have any pre-pandemic data to use as a control,” the report says. “HPS researchers took these numbers as a direct estimate of the impact from the pandemic on the ability of renter households to meet their rent. It is based on the implicit assumption that if the HPS survey had been run pre-pandemic, 0% of families would have answered they were behind on rent.”
The report also indicates that eviction rates remain low in areas where eviction moratoriums have expired. California’s own statewide eviction moratorium lapsed Thursday, Sept. 30.
“Overestimating the number of at-risk renters likely came at a cost,” the report concludes. “Tenant self-certification programs have allowed for larger-than-necessary blanket eviction moratoriums, not truly accounting for tenant need or recognizing the level of financial assistance that was already available before the rent relief programs took effect.”