Evictions In Public Housing: No Good Guy Landlord Here

An eviction notice taped to a door
Eviction NOTICE photo by rickonine is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

We’ll take a running jump at a predominantly American post, beginning on the east side of the Atlantic. Over the last few years, social housing tenants in the British Isles have felt the impact as non-profit housing landlords that have been steered away from their existing tenant health and safety responsibilities by increasingly restrictive funding.

That burden has been shifted towards encouraging non-profit Housing Association landlords to access new legal tools. Housing Associations are allowed to dabble in free market profiteering that allows them to acquire funds for refurbishing old public housing and building new homes. All this in face of shrinking government financial support1.

A similar problem impacts upon the housing security of tenants in American public housing as federal government subsidy support increasingly abandons local housing authorities.

Rather than maintaining policies to provide housing security for tenants, this financial neglect has forced supposed ‘non-profit good guys’ to adopt the same financial practices that support free-market for-profit financial practices. The notion of housing security for the most vulnerable? Let it be damned.

This includes aggressive eviction practices, which are no longer good business practice just for free-market landlords. A detailed new report based on hundreds of thousands of evictions identifies similar practices by Public Housing Authorities in the United States. Indeed, the report finds that some Public Housing Authorities are as likely to commence eviction proceedings as free market landlords. There is also evidence that Public Housing Authorities are more likely to file serial evictions (against the same household at the same address) than free market landlords.

A report about the research is shortly to appear in Social Service Review with the title No Safe Harbor: Eviction Filing in Public Housing. In it the authors write:

“Just as in private market housing, serial eviction filings increase rental cost burden by imposing fines and fees and restrict tenants’ future housing options by leaving them with extensive eviction records. . . . The costs are borne by public housing residents with limited resources and highly restricted options on the private market . . . . These filings fundamentally undermine the promise of public housing, exposing residents to previously underappreciated levels of housing instability.”

Read more about the findings, including a link to the full study at the EVICTION LAB: Public Housing and the Threat of Eviction


  1. Try: Highest Ever Fine Handed Out To Big UK Social Landlord. What’s Going On Here?