A new study of rental insecurity and eviction rates found that Dallas is at the top of the list of major metro areas when it comes to frequency of eviction.
In fact, at a rate of 5.6 percent, Dallas is tied with Indianapolis and behind only Atlanta, Phoenix and Memphis, the report released today by ApartmentList.com revealed.
“We estimate an eviction rate of 5.6 percent for the Dallas metro, which is the No. 5 highest rate of the nation’s 50 largest metros,” said Chris Salviati, a housing economist with ApartmentList.com.
Drilling down further, Salviati and his team found that of that 5.6 percent, low-income renters accounted for 8.1 percent. Middle-income and high-income renters accounted for 6.3 percent and 2.8 percent of evictions respectively.
According to U.S. Census data, as of July 2016, Dallas had a little more than one million housing units, and 51.2 percent of those were owner-occupied. Using those numbers and the 5.6 percent rate found in Salviati’s report, it would seem that as many as 28,757 a year could be evicted.
The ApartmentList report looks at several factors that contribute to these eviction and rent insecurity rates. How frequently respondents reported facing eviction often could be tied to whether or not they had a college education, wage stagnation, race, and whether they had a child or children.
On a national level, the report found that 3.3 percent of renters have been evicted, and 2.4 percent had been evicted from their most current home.
“With an estimated 118 million renters in the U.S. today, we estimate that 3.7 million Americans have been affected by eviction at some point,” Salviati said.
Even without eviction, the report said that 18 percent of respondents reported having difficulty paying all or part of their rent in the last three months – but that almost 30 percent of low-income renters said they had at some point in the last three months found it difficult or impossible to pay their full rent.
“Of those earning less than $30,000 per year, 11 percent faced an eviction threat in the past year, and 3.4 percent were evicted from their previous residence,” Salviati said. “In contrast, for those earning more than $60,000 per year, these figures are 3.1 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.”
In their report “Eviction’s Fallout: Housing, Hardship, and Health,” Matthew Desmond and Rachel Tolbert Kimbro said that “the majority of poor renting families in America now devote over half of their income to housing costs.”
Desmond and Kimbro found that while middle-class families tended to be affected more by foreclosures, evictions hit the poor the most.
“It does not take a major life event (a death, a diagnosis) to cause severely housing burdened families to miss a rent payment,” the two said, “pedestrian expenses or setbacks—for example, a reduction in work hours, or public benefits sanction — can cause families to come up short with the rent.”
This rental insecurity can cost money. In many cases, renters chose to move instead of wait to be evicted because of chronically late rent payments. That moving caused stress — both financially and emotionally.
“The energy and resources that evicted tenants dedicate to securing subsequent housing and restoring a household often require them to forego other basic necessities, like warm clothing, food, or medical care,” Desmond and Kimbro said. “Additionally, a court-ordered eviction renders some voucher holders ineligible for federal housing assistance.”
“And the mark of eviction on one’s record not only can prevent one from securing affordable housing in a decent neighborhood, it also can tarnish one’s credit rating.”
In a separate report earlier this year, Andrew Woo — another ApartmentList economist — found that Dallas renters were frequently more “cost burdened” because of stagnating wages.
“Incomes in Dallas, Nashville, and Chicago barely budged, even as rents rose by 25 percent or more,” Woo found.
In another analysis of cost-burdened renters, Woo and Salviati found that while incomes in Dallas increased by 9 percent between 2005 and 2015, rents increased 11 percent.
Dallas’ share of cost-burdened renters in 2015 was about 47 percent, compared to 48 percent or so in Austin and Houston and about 45 percent in San Antonio.
This jibes with a report this summer from Go Banking Rates, which found that to live comfortably in Dallas, a single person would need to make $57,984. The median income for a single person in Dallas, however, is $43,781.
This eviction rate can also be attributed, today’s report said, to a lack of low-cost, quality child care.
On a national level, single-parent households are at the highest risk for eviction — 30.1 percent among those that report having difficulty paying rent in the past three months were single-parent households.
“However, married couples with children do not fare much better, with 27.2 percent struggling to pay rent,” Salviati said.
“This result points to the fact the child care represents an essential but often overwhelming expense for many families, even those with both parents in the house,” he continued.
This intersection between quality full-day learning and income opportunity is something that the team at Dallas nonprofit Commit has been studying.
“The connection between financial stability and access to high-quality, affordable, full-day early learning environments is a straight line for working families,” said Rob Shearer, Commit communications director, said. “Whether we are talking pre-kindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds in a school district, or high-quality daycare for babies and toddlers, the reality is that these options place considerable financial and emotional stress on working parents.”
This lack of available full-day care compared to need is impacting the most vulnerable families in Dallas.
“Boston Consulting Group just did an analysis for our Early Matters Dallas coalition, and determined that 65 percent of zip codes in Dallas County don’t have enough childcare seats to meet parent demand,” Shearer said. “And that translates into a workforce problem. There are 42,000 middle-income jobs that are currently unfilled in large part due to parents not being able to find a safe and affordable childcare option.”
Care.com’s 2017 Cost of Care Survey revealed that nationally, one in three families report spending 20 percent or more of their annual household income on childcare. The same report found that while 72 percent of parents surveyed budgeted for child care, 30 percent weren’t able to stay within their monthly budget.
According to a DFWJobs.com 2016 Texas market rate survey for child care, the mean daily rate for preschool at a licensed child care center in Texas is $30.05 — or about $150 per week.
In Dallas, the mean is $26.65, or about $133 per week per child.
According to the Living Wage Calculator, both adults in a family of four would need to make $14.69 per hour each to be able to pay for all their expenses, including rent and childcare.
For reference sake, statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics has your average bank clerk, receptionist, and hotel clerk in Dallas making $12.82, $13.13, $10.43 per hour, respectively.
And the constant moving evictions demand is detrimental to students, too. Dallas ISD District 1 trustee Edwin Flores said it’s a constant refrain he hears from principals and teachers.
“From my level, what we see is that 30 percent of our students move school every year, which is incredibly disruptive to the learning environment and adds to the toxic stress of the students,” Flores said. “One of our best principals, Kyle Richardson, used to tell me that he could handle educating student in poverty, ELL, at-risk, etc. — and he so did very successfully at Kramer, Marsh, and Woodrow.”
“But he always said the toughest factor to deal with was student mobility,” he continued. “Add to the evictions the folks that are chasing six months of free rent and you have huge numbers of students moving around.”
“In fact, the main reason we are a ‘managed instruction’ school district is the student mobility challenge,” Flores said.
These hyper-mobile students can often have difficulties keeping up in the classroom — and their academics suffer, often leading to repeating grades or even dropping out. And when students who are already behind enter school as new students repeatedly throughout the year, the turnover can affect the academic outcomes of all students.
So what is the answer? Unfortunately, there is no immediate and easy silver bullet to create more affordable housing and services for the most vulnerable Dallasites. Most experts agree that to create that housing opportunity, wages need to reflect the real cost of living, but there is also a need for a greater inventory of affordable and safe rental homes.
Addressing the need for quality, affordable childcare is also a necessity, as is increasing opportunities for Dallas ISD’s current student body to learn a trade, earn college credits, and graduate ready for better-paying jobs or college.
Creating a better, more worker-friendly transit system that can efficiently (and inexpensively) get an urban workforce around the city would also do much to shave costs for the city’s working poor, and contribute to job security.
Bethany Erickson is the education, consumer affairs, and public policy columnist for CandysDirt.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.