2020 Rental Assistance Applications and their Connection to Eviction Disparity

In continuing our research on evictions and their impact on Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) in Utah, the Division of Multicultural Affairs’ research team has analyzed data on rental assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic or year 2020. In collaboration with the Utah Department of Workforce Services, we analyzed data on how approved rental assistance applications are being distributed in the State of Utah. With cooperation from the various local housing agencies in the state, rental assistance data on three programs was made available to our research team for analysis.

Our primary question was to understand where rental assistance applications have been approved (based on zip code level data) and whether or not the majority of approved applications were in zip codes that have the highest rates of eviction (or disparity) in the state.

Our analysis shows that only 34% of the total number of approved rental applications went to zip codes which have a disparity rate of two times (2x) the state as a whole. This means that there is significant room to improve rental assistance approval in zip codes that have a high eviction disparity but are underrepresented when it comes to approved applications. However, it is important to note that of the zip codes that have disparity rates of at least two times (2x) greater than the state as a whole, some zip codes have an approved application rate at or over the 90th percentile (roughly 144 applications per zip code). These zip codes include: 84047, 84058, 84070, 84107, 84115, 84116, 84119, 84123 and 84401. For a full picture of where approved rental assistance applications have gone in the state and any associated eviction disparity we encourage you to view our map dashboard and explore the data.

Additionally, our research team was interested in understanding potential target areas that would benefit from increased rental assistance support based on their high rates of eviction and low numbers of approved rental assistance applications. Our analysis shows two zip codes of concern, 84111 and 84101. These two zip codes have high eviction rates, 6.8 % and 6.98% respectively, but received less than 80 total approved applications (an insufficient number of applications to even begin addressing the disparity these zip codes have in evictions). Our analysis also shows that there are other zip codes of concern. These include: 84044, 84102, and 84104 whose evictions rates are lower than the two zip codes mentioned above but still high enough to be considered at a level of disparity. Each of these zip codes received less than 90 total approved applications. To learn more about this analysis and compare it to other zip codes in the state please visit our zip code visualization dashboard for full information.

There are some important notes to make regarding these findings. First, the rental assistance programs – from which this data originated – were designed to support people who have been adversely affected (economically) by the COVID-19 pandemic. The eligibility criteria for rental assistance were created to help anyone in the state. At the time of program creation our research team had not published our findings on eviction disparity and thus the programs couldn’t have been made aware of any disparity at the zip code level in preparation for the implementation of these programs. However, now that both the eviction disparities data and rental assistance data is available our research team recommends that more targeted efforts are made to ensure a greater number of submitted and approved applications for the zip code areas of concern mentioned above. Approaches that involve targeted outreach, case management, and awareness of disparity are in the best interest of our communities in Utah. Second, our original data looked at eviction disparity at the zip code level and found that there were higher rates of disparity for zip codes that are predominately BIPOC. This disparity persisted despite the moratoriums placed on evictions. Thus, we encourage folks to consider that many BIPOC families and communities may still be in need of rental assistance support as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and are still at greater risk for eviction.

The research team, consisting of Dr. Joél Arvizo-Zavala, Ramy Ahmed, and Taysha Tiatia would like to thank the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs, the Utah COVID-19 Multicultural Advisory Committee, the Utah Department of Workforce Services, and the local housing agencies for their collaboration and support on this project. Any questions regarding the project can be directed to the principal investigator, Joél Arvizo-Zavala (joelarvizo@utah.gov).