More than 3.5 million U.S. households are threatened with eviction each year, a poignant illustration of rising housing costs. The causes of eviction can be complex, following a synergy of poverty and low wages, rising rent costs, inflation, and drug and mental health challenges for citizens living paycheck to paycheck. For many individuals, an eviction can be the result of common life occurrences, such as middle-income suburban renters facing an unexpected bill or work hours reduced. Evictions are also seasonal, often peaking in the summer.
Regardless, displacement is traumatic for the individuals and families involved and impacts stability and quality of life at all levels personally and for the community.
Using its expertise in research, data integration, analysis, and visualizations, The Polis Center developed a new statewide tool to help users better understand trends and relationships between evictions and societal factors. The goal is to raise awareness of evictions in Indiana and provide an easy-to-use online resource to empower communities to instill change. The dashboard features many resources for tenants, researchers, and stakeholders. Real stories of people experiencing evictions have been captured to give context to the data. Benefits include:
- Users may explore spatial trends of evictions and foreclosures over time at mutiple geographic levels in Indiana.
- Users may examine important associations between socioeconomic variables and evictions data.
- Users have the opportunity to provide an anonymous story of their eviction experience on a qualitative data page.
Screenshot of dashboard page showing sealed eviction cases in Indiana over time.
How was it done?
Polis gathered feedback on what potential users would like to see in the dashboard, involving academics, lawyers, public media, and leaders of nonprofits. Stakeholders included Indiana University, Bloomington; Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI); Indiana Legal Services; IU School of Law in Bloomington; University of Notre Dame Law School; Indiana Justice Project; WFYI Public Media; ProBono Indiana; Patchwork Indy; Indiana Tenant Association; City of South Bend; City of Fort Wayne; and judges in the State of Indiana.
We gathered data from the Indiana Supreme Court to better illuminate eviction and foreclosure trends throughout the State of Indiana and established a data pipeline to enable detailed and updated data moving forward.
In addition, Polis used the Foreclosure and Eviction Analysis Tool (FEAT), an open source data tool from New America to help provide data/analysis for the Indiana dashboard. FEAT specifically helps identify where problems are located, when problems tend to occur, and who is impacted. New America is a “think and action” tank which focuses on equity at the center of its research and policy recommendations.
What had already been done?
Polis was inspired by work created by the Eviction Lab, a great resource for eviction filing data, which is updated monthly at the census tract level for Indiana. Weekly data is also available for download. Check out https://evictionlab.org/eviction-tracking/indiana/ and https://evictionlab.org/eviction-tracking/get-the-data/
The Indiana Housing Dashboard provides excellent information as well, mostly at the county level. It allows for direct comparisons.
SAVI Talks webinar and discussion
During the Dec. 7, 2023 SAVI Talks webinar, The Polis Center showcased the tool and fielded a discussion among experts in the eviction and housing circle to provide insight and perspective on this important topic. Yuliya Panfil, Sr. Fellow and Director of Future of Land and Housing, New America, provided an overview of New America’s work and Matt Dietrich, Sr. Research Analyst for Polis, explained the goal and development of the dashboard and data. Jill Sheridan, WFYI Public Media City Government and Policy Reporter, moderated a discussion which included Dr. Patricia de Toledo Basil, Asst. Professor, IU; Patrick Chavis IV, Eviction Diversion Initiative Grant Administrator, Lawrence Township Small Claims Court; Laurin Embry, Director of the Indiana Tenant Association; Mari Luna, Community Organizer for Patwork Indy; and Rabbi Aaron Spiegel, Exec. Dir. of The Greater Indianapolis Multifaith Alliance.
Check out the recorded presentation and PPT slides at right.
We hope to secure additional funding to keep updating the dashboard and make iterative improvements and additions; dive deeper into the analyses to uncover trends; and keep tracking/adding individual eviction stories.