Addressing housing policy, regulation, implementation, and practice is a critical step to promoting health equity, especially during a pandemic requiring people to abide by stay-at-home orders. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Dallas passed an ordinance requiring landlords to wait 60 days to give a notice to vacate and file an eviction, as long as tenants respond within 21 days and show that they’re experiencing hardship because of COVID-19. Texas Tenants' Union, a tenants’ rights organization that has been organizing for more than 40 years, is interested in whether the rent ordinance reduces eviction.
The research team will obtain eviction records from Dallas County Justice of the Peace Court Precinct 2 (which includes part of the City of Dallas and several other cities) and compare them with eviction filings from the same period in the previous year. They will analyze the nonpayment cases to determine whether tenants who had a grace period to pay their rent avoided eviction at higher rates than tenants in cities that did not enact an ordinance. The research team will also facilitate focus groups with city stakeholders, landlords, and tenants who have been evicted to get multiple perspectives on whether the ordinance reduced evictions or simply delayed them. The focus groups will also offer a glimpse into whether the pandemic’s stressors differ from those triggered by traditional rent burden.
The intended audience for the project’s findings are city officials and nonprofits working on alleviating poverty in Dallas County, specifically in Garland, Mesquite, Balch Springs, Rowlett, and Sunnyvale. The project is intended to inform policymakers, nonprofits, tenants, and the public about the effectiveness of the City of Dallas’s ordinance in stopping evictions and its potential for preventing homelessness.