February 17, 2020
By Emily F. Keller
UW News Highlights CUAC Research on Housing and Evictions

Research on housing and evictions in Washington State has revealed demographic inequities along race and gender lines. The Evictions Study has shown higher rates of evictions for women and black adults than men and white adults across the state.

The Evictions Study is led by principal investigator Dr. Timothy A. Thomas, a former UW postdoctoral researcher and director of the Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative (CUAC) Neighborhood Change Project, now at the University of California, Berkeley. The research team consists of UW project leads Jose Hernandez and Ott Toomet, and researchers Anisha Keshavan, Ian Kennedy and Alex Ramiller.

Among the study’s findings is that from 2013 to 2017, 1 in 6 black adults in Pierce County were named in an eviction filing, compared to 1 in 55 for white adults; and 1 in 11 black adults were named in King County filings, compared to 1 in 100 for whites. In most counties in Washington State, women were evicted 11% more than men.

The team used multidisciplinary methods to uncover data on Washington’s 39 counties. As the UW News article explains, “The Evictions Study fills in the gaps using data science to mine court records, demographic estimations to enumerate individuals, and sociological theory to explain trends.” This included looking at demographic and housing market data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, with additional data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and annual counts of homelessness. Interactive maps have been created, beginning with four counties: King, Pierce, Snohomish and Whatcom.

The Neighborhood Change Project, which combines research at the University of British Columbia and UW, investigates the effects of neighborhood change and segregation on racial and socioeconomic differences in health, housing, migration, and poverty in the Seattle and Vancouver metropolitan areas. The Evictions Study expands this work to Berkeley, California, with plans to study trends in Baltimore and other U.S. cities.

The study has already contributed to legislative change. In May 2019, the Washington State legislature passed a series of changes to landlord-tenant law, which included extending the deadline for tenants to pay overdue rent to avoid eviction from three to 14 days. This followed testimony by Thomas in front of the Senate Housing Stability & Affordability Committee on this topic.

The research is funded by CUAC, the UW eScience Institute, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft Research, and Enterprise Community Partners, with technological support from the UW Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology.