Evictions have long-term impacts on a households' future housing, health, and economic outcomes. Despite local, state, and federal moratoriums, over 3,000 households were "locked out" in The Bay Area during the pandemic. Eviction rates among Black households were 2 to 3 times higher than eviction rates among white households.
In collaboration with the Sold Out podcast team at NPR's KQED, UC Berkeley's Evictions Study and Urban Displacement Project analyzed Sheriff lockouts in the 9 county Bay Area from 2017 to 2021. A lockout is the final step in the eviction process. Depending on the situation, households may leave anytime prior to a notice to after an eviction lawsuit. If the tenant and landlord can't land a deal in those earlier stages, the court allows the landlord to execute a "writ of restitution" (i.e., lockout) through the county sheriff. Since we only have access to lockout data, the real number of tenants forced out by eviction is much higher than what we show here.
In this analysis, we will show you where and how many lockouts were executed both before and during the pandemic. We'll also show you the extreme racial disparities in Bay Area evictions.
Lockouts over time
Eviction lockouts served by county Sheriffs from 2017 to 2021
Prior to the pandemic, Bay Area counties executed over 6,000 lockouts per year, with over 500 per month. January and July are often particularly busy months for evictions.
After the first eviction moratorium in March 2020, the number of lockouts dropped to almost zero. However, as the pandemic wore on, counts started to increase, with a spike in July 2021. With expiration of the CDC moratorium in late 2021 and loosening of California restrictions in October 2021, eviction counts may rise to pre-pandemic levels in 2022.
Note: The San Francisco County Sheriff department wasn't able to provide a large amount of their data prior to this release, resulting in a very limited count in their area—we will update these numbers as they come in.
Pandemic lockouts vs. historical average
Monthly eviction counts compared to pre-pandemic historical averages.
The graph above provides insight into how the moratorium affected eviction rates during the pandemic. Bars that extend above the dashed line represent months where rates were higher than the historical average, while bars that do not reach the dashed line represent months where rates were lower than the historical average.
As the graph illustrates, right before the start of the pandemic in January 2020, eviction rates were higher than the historical average. After the moratoriums were issued in March 2020, counts quickly fell below historical averages in the following months. In July 2021, however, there was a substantial spike in evictions followed by elevated counts through October 2021 (where our dataset ends). Both January 2020 and July 2021 had historically high eviction rates, although it is unclear why.
This graph clearly shows that federal and state funded eviction rental assistance programs had a significant impact in reducing counts during the pandemic. These below-average-numbers are especially surprising given the massive increase in households that found themselves in economically precarious conditions during this time.
Lockouts per 100 people over 5 years
The number of lockouts as a share of total renters per county
The graph above shows the lockout rate—the percentage of renters that were locked out over the study period—both before and during the pandemic. The blue sections of the bars represent pre-pandemic rates while the red sections represent rates during the pandemic. Combined, these two rates provide the overall lockout rates (represented by the full bars). The counties are ordered left to right by the descending number of renters in the county—Santa Clara County has the most renters while Napa County has the least.
The graph reveals that Solano County had the highest lockout rate— 5%, or 5 lockouts for every 100 renters. However, Solano County has fewer than 58,000 renters and ranks third to last among Bay Area counties in terms of renter population. Santa Clara County has the highest renter population (279,110) and the highest number of evictions overall (5,424). Contra Costa County has the highest eviction rate among counties that have over 100,000 renters.
Lockout rates by race
This graph, which shows lockout rates by race and ethnicity, reveals the disproportionate impact evictions have on Black renters in the Bay. Black households face significantly higher eviction rates in all Bay Area counties. In Napa County, eviction rates for Black households are more than three times as high as for any other race or ethnicity group. Asian households consistently are evicted at the lowest rates in all counties.