This article was originally published by The Aspen Institute on Aug. 7, 2020. The following is an excerpt. 

The United States may be facing the most severe housing crisis in its history. According to the latest analysis of weekly US Census data, as federal, state, and local protections and resources expire and in the absence of robust and swift intervention, an estimated 30–40 million people in America could be at risk of eviction in the next several months. Many property owners, who lack the credit or financial ability to cover rental payment arrears, will struggle to pay their mortgages and property taxes and maintain properties. The COVID-19 housing crisis has sharply increased the risk of foreclosure and bankruptcy, especially among small property owners; long-term harm to renter families and individuals; disruption of the affordable housing market; and destabilization of communities across the United States.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers, academics, and advocates have conducted a continuous analysis of the effect of the public health crisis and economic depression on renters and the housing market. Multiple studies have quantified the effect of COVID-19-related job loss and economic hardship on renters’ ability to pay rent during the pandemic. While methodologies differ, these analyses converge on a dire prediction: If conditions do not change, 29-43% of renter households could be at risk of eviction by the end of the year.

This article aggregates the existing research related to the COVID-19 housing crisis, including estimated potential upcoming eviction filings, unemployment data, and housing insecurity predictions. Additionally, based on this research and new weekly analysis of real-time US Census Bureau Household Pulse data, this article frames the growing potential for widespread displacement and homelessness across the United States.

Read the full piece here


Emily Benfer

Wake Forest Law School

Emily A. Benfer is a visiting professor of law who is leading the development of the Wake Forest Law Health Justice Clinic as its founding director. As a well-known authority in the field of health and housing justice, Professor Benfer is recognized for a myriad of social justice and scholarly accomplishments, and a commitment to preparing the next generation of advocates. Her clinic practice and research focus on the intersection of social determinants of health, racial inequity, and poverty with an emphasis on housing, as well as community-based approaches to access to justice and health equity, such as medical-legal partnership. 

Stacy Butler

University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law

Stacy Butler is a professor and the Director for the Innovation for Justice Program at the University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law. She has two decades of experience in community advocacy and expanding the reach of civil legal services for under-served populations. Prior to launching the i4J Program, she worked in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona and served as an adjunct professor at University of Arizona Law. In 2017, she launched Step Up to Justice, a pro bono civil legal center that has delivered over $3 million in free civil legal services to low-income families.

Lavar Edmonds

Princeton University, Department of Sociology

Lavar Edmonds is a research specialist with the Eviction Lab. Guided by experiences as a high school math teacher, his research broadly centers around inequality, particularly in education. In college, he worked as the data analyst for the school’s Student Transition Program, studying academic outcomes for first-generation and traditionally underrepresented minority students at the university. 

Sam Gilman

The COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project

Sam Gilman is the co-founder of The COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project. He works at the intersection of law, policy, and data. Sam was previously Sr. Manager of Strategy and Special Projects at Guild Education. Before that, he worked at McKinsey and was co-founder and CEO of a political advocacy group called Common Sense Action. He is also a JD/MPP student at Harvard University where he is policy director and a student attorney with the Harvard Tenant Advocacy Project.

Katherine Lucas McKay

The Aspen Institute

Katherine Lucas McKay is a Senior Program Manager at the Aspen Institute’s Financial Security Program (FSP), where she leads the Expanding Prosperity Impact Collaborative (EPIC), a research initiative focused on solving the most consequential, urgent financial challenges facing US households. Ms. Lucas McKay is an experienced policy researcher and advocate in the fields of household financial security and economic inequality, and has worked on issues including housing affordability, foreclosure prevention, mortgage lending, retirement savings, credit reporting, tax policy, and safety net policies.

Zach Neumann

The Aspen Institute

Zach Neumann serves as a Senior Project Manager at the Future of Work Initiative where he focuses on designing policy solutions to support lifelong learning and training systems for city and state governments. Outside of his role at the Aspen Institute, Zach is a lawyer who represents clients facing eviction, medical debt collection, and other civil-legal problems. He is also a public policy lecturer at the University of Colorado Denver.

Neil Steinkamp


Neil Steinkamp is a well-recognized expert and consultant on a broad range of strategic, organizational, and financial issues to government, business, court and community leaders and their advisors. He has nearly 20 years of experience covering many industries and matter types. Clients seek Neil for his comprehensive understanding of: transformative change strategies; complex structured and unstructured data analysis and assessment; multi-stakeholder collaboration and coordination; the development of pathways to compliance and iterative change strategies; financial and fiscal impact analyses; and other complex topics. 

Diane Yentel

National Low Income Housing Coalition

Diane Yentel is the President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a membership organization dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that ensures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes. Diane is a veteran affordable housing policy expert with over two decades of work on affordable housing and community development. Before rejoining NLIHC (where she previously worked as a policy analyst), Diane was Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs at Enterprise Community Partners, where she led federal, state and local policy, research and advocacy programs.


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