Durham, NC
United States

Analyzing data to identify racial and ethnic disparities in eviction practices and interpreting findings through community gallery walks to inform changes to local policies and programs.

In recent years, residents of Durham, North Carolina, have faced alarming rates of eviction. According to one estimate, 72 percent of these evictions occurred in communities primarily comprising individuals and families of color, highlighting the disproportionate racial impacts of the eviction process. These rates indicate an ongoing public health crisis: evictions often lead to homelessness, which in turn exposes people to violence, repeated forced displacement by police and private security, hunger and malnourishment, untreated medical needs, and emotional and psychological harm. With the City of Durham considering interventions to better support fair housing, DataWorks NC plans to help craft an equitable policy update by analyzing how eviction processes and their impacts vary across race, ethnicity, and income level.  

DataWorks staff will draw on more than 20 years of data from a variety of sources, including evictions records from the county sheriff’s office and the state Administrative Office of the Courts and neighborhood- and property-level information. The organization will also match voting records, which include racial and ethnic identification, to the eviction records to assess disproportionality. DataWorks will explore and interpret these findings with community residents at organized gallery walks and discussions that will also include community nonprofits, close contacts in the local government, and partners specializing in eviction diversion. Specific partners attending these discussions are likely to include representatives from North Carolina Central University Law School, Duke University’s Civil Justice Clinic, and Durham County’s Department of Social Services, as well as the City of Durham’s Human Relations Division, Public Health Department, and attorney’s office. These gallery walks will help DataWorks determine what messages and meanings from the data are most relevant to community members and need the most amplification. 

DataWorks will share takeaways from this collaborative data interpretation with the City of Durham and support their efforts to determine whether the government should implement or change specific interventions in fair housing and mandatory mediation. These findings can also inform Legal Aid of North Carolina’s legal, community engagement, and fair housing teams, as well as DataWorks’ broader audience engaged on this issue including displaced tenants, concerned residents, nonprofit and government staff, and elected officials.