Housing stability is the foundation for a community where everyone has the opportunity and resources to thrive. Stable housing strengthens neighborhoods, and supports access to critical needs including healthcare, education, and employment. Evictions destabilize this foundational element of community by displacing households and multiplying the burden experienced by those struggling to achieve and maintain stability. Neighborhoods experiencing high eviction rates present staggering instability indicators (which include lower income, educational outcome, minimal access to physical and mental health services, food insecurity, etc.); this unfortunate correlation stifles community development and prosperity.
As a community, we are increasingly talking about evictions arising and increasing in the immediate future, not only in the midst of the pandemic, but as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The experience and spatial distribution of evictions within and across our communities is coded in economic, social, and racial disparity. There is a significant segment of our community that does not have an adequate safety net to fall on, and are extremely vulnerable in the face of potential emergencies, job loss or hours reduction, and income insecurity in other forms. Housing instability and displacement at the individual level therefore, adds to instability at the neighborhood and community level.
Yet, we don’t have data that gives us a clear picture of where evictions are occurring and how that is impacting specific neighborhoods. Compiling eviction data will allow us a better understanding of where housing instability is occurring, and where we need to target our efforts and resources to respond to this crisis. Most importantly, it will serve as a basis for publicly identifying, analyzing, and correcting the systemic causes for evictions that limit household and neighborhood stability. Having public access to eviction data is critical to realizing the shared goal of minimizing evictions and the experience of housing instability within and across Iowa communities.
Why Eviction Data Access Matters?
Data transparency, particularly eviction data matters to increasing awareness about critical housing issues and strengthening community’s response to said issues. Local courts are processing eviction cases Monday - Friday. Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and throughout an active moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent issued by the Center for Disease Control, eviction filings and case hearings have been active.
Access to eviction data is the first step to communicating the impact of evictions, increasing awareness, understanding, and exploring opportunities for collaborative approaches to prevention and intervention. Through increased eviction data access, unevictIA aims to connect and strengthen the capacity of stakeholders in the public, non-profit, and private sectors to explore and act on opportunities to engage in eviction prevention. unevictIA will develop a zip code and dwelling level Iowa eviction data dashboard that can be used to conduct responsive and targeted eviction prevention outreach while investigating opportunities for advocacy and systems level transformative change.
Amal is an urban planner working in the non-profit affordable housing sector and serves as the VP - Planning and Strategy at Oakridge Neighborhood. Her focus areas are affordable housing preservation, asset-based community development, and spatial and environmental justice. She is a HealthConnect Fellow with the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation (MIHF). unevictIA research activities are supported by grant funding from the MIHF.
Carissa is a senior at Drake University studying both studio art painting and environmental science sustainability and resilience. She has been the Sprout Community Learning Garden Coordinator and a Summer Studio Arts Education Intern. Carissa has a desire to use her knowledge of environmental studies along with her passion for art to activate conversations about the impact on social issues. She will be using art to assist in humanizing eviction data, making it accessible to all.
Planning & Engagement
Kaleb is an interdisciplinary placemaker who seeks to challenge oppression with the commutative properties of artistic expression. He co-creates spaces for self-expression and works with artists to find creative solutions to strengthen the cultural foundations of communities. His mission as a cultural producer is centered in community enrichment, and as such he collaborates with artists from a wide range of disciplines as well as community members who do not identify as artists.