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Comprehensive nationwide figures aren’t available. But according to the Princeton University Eviction Lab, 318,091 households have faced eviction proceedings during the pandemic in the 27 cities the research project tracks, including Phoenix, Milwaukee and Dallas. Many more remain vulnerable to eviction and possible homelessness: By May, an estimated 7 million renters across the country will owe $40 billion in back rent, utilities and fees, Moody’s Analytics estimates. Before the pandemic, about 900,000 households were evicted each year.
Most renters live in apartments or houses owned by small-scale “mom-and-pop” landlords, who often rely heavily on their rental income. But based on a review of hundreds of court filings across the country, as well as interviews with tenants, their lawyers and housing advocates, it’s the big, deep-pocketed corporate landlords with property portfolios spanning multiple states that have been the most aggressive in filing eviction cases, even as they have thrived in the pandemic.