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Housing and Homelessness

When States Lifted Eviction Moratoriums, COVID Case Rates And Deaths Rose, UCLA Researchers Report

A person holds a handwritten sign on a poster board that reads: # Eviction Free L.A.
California's eviction moratorium may have saved over thousands of lives, according to a UCLA study.
(Valerie Macon
AFP via Getty Images)
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When eviction moratoriums first went into place across the nation, the goal was to keep people out of situations where they'd be at greater risk for COVID-19. Now a study has found that states that lifted those moratoriums last summer saw a rise in the rate of COVID cases and deaths.

UCLA researchers estimate that states that ended those moratoriums added 430,000 more cases and 10,000 more deaths compared to those — like California — that kept moratoriums in place.

Co-author Kathryn Leifheit said those who were evicted often had to live in shelters or move in with others which increased the likelihood of community transmission.

Those in danger of eviction were disproportionately Black and Latino households and households headed by women. In addition, researchers found people trying to stay housed often took on additional work — and that exposure increased their risk.

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"California might have prevented as many as 187,000 cases of COVID and 6,500 deaths from COVID just by maintaining its eviction moratorium," said Leifheit.

She recommends that states extend their moratoriums and provide rent relief to prevent the pandemic from getting worse. California's moratorium is currently set to expire September 30th.

The research was published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Epidemiology. The authors note that their study had a number of limitations, including the reality that even when moratoriums are in place people may still have been evicted.

Researchers looked at COVID data in 43 states and the District of Columbia where eviction moratoriums were enacted between March 13 and April 30 of last year. Of those, 27 had lifted the moratorium by Sept. 30, 2020, the period studied.

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