LOOK: Researchers Create a Map of Evictions in Iowa
Getting all of the data from the Iowa Judicial Branch took nearly two months, according to Amal Barre, a HealthConnect Fellow with the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation.
If you have ever rented a house or apartment, there is one word you never wanted to hear: eviction. There is a group of researchers working to find out where people are losing their homes in Iowa, and what can be done to help.
unevictIA has have been using state data to track evictions across Iowa, creating a map of where the problem is worst. Naturally, that's a tall order, but the researchers tell Local 5 the data could help keep people in their homes.
The project is lead by Amal Barre, a HealthConnect Fellow with the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation. After working for a nonprofit affordable housing provider for three years, she was inspired to begin applying what'd she learned on a bigger project.
"I wanted to try and uplift that and bring that up to the table. And one of the things that I realized, you can't really have this conversation without knowing the scale of the issue," Barre said.
Using grant funding from the MIHF, Barre started the unevictIA project.
Because eviction data is public record, the information used came from the Iowa Judicial Branch. Names are not attached due to privacy concerns for the tenants involved, but the result was a map of evictions in Iowa, sorted by zip code.
However, Barre warns against rushing to any conclusions about trends too quickly.
"Until we are able to have that granular level data at the unit level, only then would we be able to be more precise and conclusive about, about why the patterns that we see and observe, exist," she said.
Even without drawing broad conclusions, Barre told Local 5 there is value in just having access to the data. After an eviction is filed due to nonpayment of rent, efforts to help often come too late. The eviction dashboard is one way to provide renters, landlords, and legislators more information on how to get support earlier.
"We're not able to be in a position like that we're able to prepare for the possibility of a household experiencing a crisis. So we're only able to respond to them once that family is already in a crisis situation. And they're already kind of a little too deep in that in that process," she said.
And even if you are not worried about being evicted yourself, a steady neighborhood helps everyone, regardless of housing status.
"It's beneficial for the landlord. It's beneficial for the tenant. And then at the community level, it's beneficial for us as a community because we have households that are stably housed, and our communities are stable," Barre said.
If you are interested in reviewing any of the unevictIA data for yourself, you can find the eviction data dashboard, and a virtual exhibit breaking it all down, here.