NSF 2022-2025: Forced Displacement and Community Resilience: Housing Insecurity under COVID-19 in Inland Southern California

The unique nature of the COVID-19 pandemic created a disaster situation that highlights the importance of stable housing, particularly as recent evidence suggests that eviction increased the risk of COVID-19 infection and mortality. This study will improve knowledge of processes and consequences of evictions before and after the COVID-19 pandemic in Inland Southern California. The first goal is to analyze the demographic and socioeconomic profile of renters who recently experienced an eviction, as well as the relocation process and outcome. The second goal is to analyze how community resilience and neighborhood change, such as neighborhoods that are gentrifying or becoming more impoverished, are tied to outcomes for renters. The third goal is to evaluate whether and how these outcomes are changed by the pandemic. This study will advance our understanding of involuntary residential choices under an external shock like a pandemic. It contributes to resilience scholarship and helps us understand why the root cause of socioeconomic disadvantage is the primary source of vulnerability under disastrous events, and how housing security interacts with community resilience. As eviction is linked to social, economic, and health disparities, and urban poverty, effective eviction-prevention initiatives could go a long way toward addressing these enduring problems. This study provides evidence for policy interventions designed to address eviction and stem its consequences. It will also provide significant implications for practice and policy in housing markets and social welfare to alleviate social and spatial divides by race, ethnicity, and class that have been exacerbated by the pandemic disruption.

This study investigates formal and informal eviction and neighborhood change before and after the COVID-19 pandemic in Inland Southern California using a multiscalar, comparative, and mixed-methods framework. Using both public and restrictive datasets, this study will model the prevalence of eviction and the threat of it at both the household and neighborhood levels. As residential mobility shapes the future life course of evicted households and neighborhood dynamics, the team will model the residential choice of evicted renters and neighborhood dynamics. Further, the project conducts in-depth interviews with tenants, landlords, real estate agents and housing developers, non-profit organizations, and government officials to examine the pathways through which individual characteristics, neighborhood environment, and institutional forces contribute to eviction. The multiscalar, mixed-methods and comparative framework will advance knowledge on the process of eviction at the household level, as well as neighborhood dynamics, policy interventions, power relations, and the coping process of local communities during a pandemic-like disruption. Findings from this study will not only directly benefit policymaking and practice in this region, but also contribute to knowledge in the field for national audiences.