Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Idaho, like many nations across the country, faced rising housing costs, low home-vacancy rates and increasing efforts by landlords to evict tenants.
Thanks to increased unemployment benefits, federal stimulus checks and eviction moratoriums – all a part of the government’s pandemic response – renters’ lives improved slightly in 2020. But with those programs decreasing or disappearing, many Idahoans and other Americans who rent their homes will still struggle to pay rent and face imminent risk of being evicted.
Our analysis of eviction rates across the state of Idaho finds that numbers were down in 2020 but are poised to return to – or maybe exceed – pre-pandemic levels within the coming months as economic support for renting families runs out.
Similar trends in other states could spark an increase in evictions across the state .
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In 2016, 2,037 or 1.1% of all renting households in Idaho faced an eviction filing – when a landlord formally requests an eviction order from a court. The courts ordered evictions for 1,107 households, or 0.6% of the state’s renting households that year.
Eviction filings that don't end in an ordered eviction could also be a results of renters reaching a settlement with the owner before eviction. Even when dismissed or settled, filings affect a tenant’s record, potentially making it challenging to seek out new housing for years into the longer term .
By 2019, eviction filings increased to affect 2,673 households, 1.4% of the state’s renting households, with 1,611, or 0.8%, ultimately facing a court-ordered eviction. Between 2016 and 2019, housing prices in Idaho increased by 34.7%, while the median income increased by only 17.7%. When housing costs outpace income, affordable housing stock decreases with a possible increase in evictions.
In 2020, however, eviction numbers dropped – 1% of Idaho’s renting households, 1,893 families, had an eviction filing and 1,127, or 0.6%, were formally evicted.
Unlike other states, Idaho didn't have a statewide eviction ban, but there are potential reasons for these decreases.
From Annunciation through April 30, 2020, state courts were closed, apart from essential hearings – which could have included evictions concerning criminality . Most other eviction proceedings would are delayed. additionally , some landlords may have decided to hunt resolutions aside from eviction, especially as cash aid came in from federal and state governments.
However, when the courts reopened in May 2020, eviction filings and formal evictions spiked. And monthly statistics show the rates rising almost back to 2019’s levels. This raises the question of the power of federal bans alone to decrease eviction rates.
Federal eviction moratoriums
When the pandemic hit, an estimated 15.9 million people across the country lost their jobs and faced difficulty affording their housing. Public health officials needed people to remain reception to limit the spread of the virus, so governments took action to curb the evictions many feared were imminent.
Federal relief legislation included direct cash payments to most American households, additional unemployment payments, emergency rental assistance and bans on evictions.
The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, referred to as the CARES Act, banned evictions from March 24 through Aug. 24, 2020, but applied to only the relatively small number of renters using federal assistance programs to pay their rent, or living in properties with federally backed financing.
A broader eviction ban, ordered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, took effect on Sept. 4, 2020, and is about to expire on June 30, 2021. It covers more renters, including people that are in danger of moving to overcrowded lodging or becoming homeless. But it’s not automatic protection: Tenants must prove their eligibility.
The CDC’s eviction ban also faces several court challenges; it had been last struck down by a court in Washington, D.C. – though the choice is on hold pending appeals. So its protection might not last very long.
Making matters more stressful for renters, neither eviction ban forgave unpaid rent, so renters are still liable for back rent and should face eviction within the future if they can't pay.
A woman stands facing a constable and another official
A Maricopa County, Arizona, constable serves an eviction notice to a tenant in Phoenix in October 2020, within the midst of the pandemic. John Moore/Getty Images
State and native eviction moratoriums
States and cities across the U.S. that found out their own eviction-prevention programs are seeing lower eviction rates than those where tenants were protected only by the federal rules.
Princeton University’s Eviction Lab Tracking System gathers eviction data in five states: Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Minnesota and Missouri, also as 28 cities round the country.
Like Idaho, Missouri didn't have a statewide eviction ban and saw an identical dip and spike in cases in April and should 2020. Delaware and Indiana had statewide bans and saw sharp increases in eviction filings after the bans expired. Connecticut and Minnesota both have ongoing bans, and eviction rates are far below pre-pandemic levels.
In cities the Eviction Lab tracks, places with local eviction bans saw eviction rates drop dramatically until the local protections expired.
People hold signs ahead of a state Capitol
A rally at the Massachusetts Statehouse in March 2021 called on legislators to try to to more to stop evictions associated with the pandemic. Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Other efforts to assist
In Idaho, Republican Gov. Brad Little allocated $15 million in federal CARES Act funds to supply rental assistance to households struggling to pay rent due to the pandemic. Another $200 million was added thereto fund through the American Rescue Plan Act in 2021. Payments go on to landlords to offset current and back rent, counting on a household’s specific circumstances.
Once these funds run out and therefore the CDC eviction ban expires or is overturned in court, renters throughout the country will haven't any remaining pandemic-related protections from eviction filings. However, those households should be feeling the pressure from the pandemic – and should not be ready to come up with current rent, much less months of back rent they could also owe.
The aid could also be coming to an end, but the potential for an eviction crisis remains – in Idaho, and round the nation.
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and. Economic Security Act (CARES Act)
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