Durham, NC
United States

Analyzed data to identify racial and ethnic disparities in eviction practices 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 comprised of 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 with their analysis of how eviction processes vary across race, ethnicity, and gender.  

DataWorks staff drew on more than 20 years of data from a variety of sources, including evictions records from the county sheriff’s office and from the state Administrative Office of the Courts as well as neighborhood- and property-level information. They matched voting records, which include racial and ethnic identification, to the eviction records to assess disproportionality. DataWorks explored and interpreted these findings in discussions with community nonprofits and partners specializing in eviction diversion, including representatives from North Carolina Central University Law School, Duke University’s Civil Justice Clinic, Durham County’s Department of Social Services, and the City of Durham’s Human Relations Division, Public Health Department, and attorney’s office. Data Works found that from 2016 to 2020 in Durham, landlords filed evictions against Black tenants at rates nearly 6 times the rate of filing against white tenants. Black tenants accounted for 75 percent of filings in this period, despite representing less than 36 percent of residents. They also found that most eviction filings occurred in census blocks where the majority of residents identified as Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC). However, even for the blocks composed of majority white residents, 75 percent of the eviction filings in those blocks were still against BIPOC residents.

DataWorks will share takeaways from this project, which are captured in this report, 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 will 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.