Each year, landlords file nearly 200,000 eviction cases in Michigan and around 40,000 Michigan households lose their homes as a result of court-ordered evictions. A growing body of national research has documented detrimental effects of eviction on individuals, households, and neighborhoods. This evidence suggests that eviction is not merely a symptom of poverty but also a cause of it. People who experience eviction are more likely to lose their jobs, experience increased rates of depression, and rate their health as fair or poor. Households who move as a result of an eviction, instead of through choice, move to poorer, higher-crime neighborhoods, and are more likely to experience problems with their new housing like broken appliances, exposed wires, or lack of heat.
Even eviction cases that do not result in evictions are harmful to tenants. These filings can result in additional costs and fees to the tenant and leave records that make it more difficult for households to find future housing. Moreover, the consequences of eviction are felt most acutely by already-disadvantaged groups, deepening social inequality. Compared to other groups, African-American women, families with children, and Hispanic households in mostly white neighborhoods experience a disproportionately high number of evictions. Victims of domestic violence also appear to face elevated rates of eviction after controlling for household and neighborhood factors, due to nuisance citations generated by incidents of domestic violence.
This brief uses statewide case filing data and data collected from a random sample of eviction case records in Washtenaw and Lenawee counties to understand the prevalence, patterns, and causes of evictions in Michigan, and provide policy recommendations for local courts, municipalities, funders, and state government. The detailed full report is by Robert Goodspeed and Margaret Dewar, University of Michigan; and Jim Schaafsma, Michigan Poverty Law Program.