A new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that county-level policies protecting residents from evictions and utility shutoffs have decreased both COVID-19 infections and deaths.
These findings provide further evidence that housing and utility assistance are essential components of a pandemic response. On average, implementing eviction and utility moratoria across all counties at the beginning of the pandemic could have prevented 395 infections and 52 deaths per county, which amounts to preventing 1.2 million infections and 164,000 deaths nationally.
Other researchers have come to similar conclusions about the protective effects of eviction moratoriums. Emily Benfer and Kathryn Leifheit, who spoke on our December 4 member call, co-authored a paper which found that lifting eviction moratoriums resulted in increases in COVID-19 infections and deaths.
Research on the pandemic and eviction moratoria highlight the need for eviction prevention but also for additional rent assistance to ensure that families benefiting from the moratoria are able to not just delay evictions, but prevent them entirely.