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Housing Precarity in San Diego County

Housing precarity refers to conditions or events which lead to heightened insecurity in a person’s housing status. This could be job loss which reduces a tenant’s ability to pay rent, a notice of eviction served by a property owner who wishes to remove a unit from the rental market, conflicts between property owners and tenants, and more. The need for research on housing precarity is exemplified by a recent Regional Taskforce on Homelessness report which shows that the number of people losing their housing and becoming homeless exceeds the number of people exiting homelessness into stable housing.

Homelessness Hub has undertaken three projects on this topic, with more in early development phases.

Storymap: Residential Eviction Filings

Mapping Evictions

Eviction is broadly defined as the forcible removal of a tenant by the owner or manager of a housing unit or the voluntary departure of a tenant at the request of the owner or manager (i.e., cash for keys). Eviction is driven by the conditions of poverty but can also exacerbate already existing inequities in housing and poverty. Research on the distribution of evictions is severely lacking, especially in the state of California, due to privacy protections and a lack of data collection by local housing authorities. Our team has filled that gap by accessing counts of unlawful detainer (i.e., eviction) lawsuits through a public records request to the San Diego Superior Court. We created maps of this data showing the rates of eviction by ZIP for each month from January 2018 to September 2021. Through a public records request to the San Diego County Office of the Sheriff, we obtained point data for all forced evictions from January 2020 to March 2021. In early 2023 we will update these maps.

Project Team:

  • Dr. Jennifer M. Nations
  • Julie Wartell
  • Zhongqi Zheng
  • Yao Fu

Understanding and Preventing Housing Instability in San Diego’s Low-income Neighborhoods 

Research over the last few years links eviction with persistent adolescent and adult health problems, including stress that leads to or exacerbates health conditions. What research has not demonstrated is whether increased awareness of their rights can prevent evictions for tenants and/or decrease feelings of stress related to housing precarity. This study is designed to evaluate the impact of Know Your Rights tenant workshops on the health and knowledge of low-income renters in San Diego and to document the housing challenges they face. The Know Your Rights workshops are one aspect of the City of San Diego’s Eviction Prevention Program (EPP). Legal Aid Society of San Diego (LASSD), operator of the EPP through a contract with the San Diego Housing Commission, contracted with the City Heights Community Development Corporation (CHCDC) to conduct outreach to at-risk renters and to register them in informational workshops. Our mixed-methods study began in April, 2022 and will conclude in September, 2023. Two research reports will be published on this site in October 2023. This study has undergone review by UCSD’s Institutional Review Board for the protection of human subjects, study reference number is #805106.

Project Team:

  • Dr. Jennifer M. Nations
  • Arianna Martinez-Valdívia
  • Jill Liang
  • Morsal Mohammad