Methodology

Data Acquisition

Eviction data was acquired directly from the Iowa Judicial Branch IT Department. It is possible that the data we gained access to is not 100% accurate and representative of actual eviction occurrences across Iowa communities for multiple reasons. Some cases may be sealed and inaccessible through public records search and data requests. Landlords and tenants sometimes engage in housing displacement by breaking lease early due to non-payment of rent or other reasons through informal proceedings without court involvement. 

 

The original data contained the following information: case number, case initiated date, party names, and case outcome, the city, state, zip code of the defendant's address at the time of case filing. We’ve removed case numbers and party names to protect the identities of tenants involved in evictions. There were instances where the defendants (tenants) had multiple addresses (zip-code level) listed in a case and the Judicial Branch could not identify to us which address was the defendant’s address at the time of eviction case filing and which was the new address (not owned/managed by plaintiff/landlord). As a result, for eviction cases we did not have definitive zip code level information, we created and assigned these cases dummy zip code (999). 

 

Census Data

To provide contextual understanding of neighborhood-level eviction data and trends, we draw from key Census data. Key variables we integrate in our analysis include renter-homeownership ratio, population size, income, education levels, housing vacancy rate, and average rent. Areas with higher renter to homeownership rate generally experienced higher rates of evictions whereas areas with lower renter to homeowner ratio experienced lower rates of evictions. This study however, does not reveal to us the extent of overall housing instability experienced within a zip-code area regardless of renter-homeowner ratio as our analysis does not account for housing stability experienced among homeowners. 

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