Since April 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and the evictions moratorium have drastically reduced Landlord-Tenant court activity, allowing Philadelphia renters to stay in their homes during a period when an eviction would subject them to risk of contracting and spreading the virus. If the moratorium set to expire on July 31st 2021 is not extended, notwithstanding innovations like pre-filing mediation and rental assistance, there will be a backlog of cases to process in court and the amount of pressure under which at least some tenants (and landlords) will be operating will be heightened. It is a critically important time to address decisions around court procedures and resources to ensure that the eviction process operates in a way that is both fair and efficient for all parties. Our newest research brief looks at the process in Philadelphia and identifies ways in which the court experience can be improved and made more equitable for both tenants and landlords as the city emerges from the pandemic.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact the affordable housing landscape in New Orleans, and how can policymakers respond? This report by Reinvestment Fund reviews demographic, economic, and housing market data prior to and immediately following the start of the pandemic, as well as interviews with local experts and stakeholders. The report concludes with a set of geographically targeted policy recommendations.
Fair housing law is an essential tool to achieving racial and economic integration and realizing the attendant benefits for all types of communities. This brief draws on structured interviews conducted by Reinvestment Fund and the University of Pennsylvania with former officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), local housing officials in New Orleans, Houston, Kansas City (MO), Indianapolis, and Philadelphia, and fair housing experts and advocates. The interviews explored what was successful about how localities addressed fair housing through the Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH)—introduced in the Obama administration and rolled back during the Trump administration— improvements that would make it more useful if implemented again in some form, and areas for enhancement beyond the scope of the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule and planning process.
Since 2014, Reinvestment Fund’s Fund for Quality (FFQ) and Early Childhood Education Loan Fund (ECE-LF) have been making investments to support the expansion of high-quality Early Childhood Education (ECE) opportunities throughout Philadelphia. From 2014 to 2019, the FFQ and ECE-LF have supported 51 projects at 46 unique centers, which have created or preserved 3,246 ECE high-quality seats across the city. These seats serve a diverse population of high-need families across the city. They have observably reduced gaps between the supply and demand for high-quality child care in their communities and have encouraged other ECE providers to expand the number of high-quality seats in their facilities. The findings presented in this Impact Brief suggest that FFQ/ECE-LF investments are reaching their intended populations and are having a substantial impact on the availability of high-quality ECE options for Philadelphia families.
Reinvestment Fund conducted analysis of Philadelphia Municipal Court records for debt collection cases that were filed in Small Claims court between January 2016 and April 2020. In total, 90,809 case records were obtained for analysis. The study estimated the racial and ethnic composition of defendants, enabling an examination of differences in filing patterns, case amounts, and outcomes by these characteristics. The efforts also included interviews with defendants, which shed light on events preceding debt cases, the court experience, and impacts beyond the case. The study was commissioned by Community Legal Services.
Reinvestment Fund’s research report provides new insight into how many Black and Hispanic renters in Philadelphia face an eviction filing compared to other racial and ethnic groups. While previous research has documented the persistent, statistically significant effect of Census tract-level racial composition on filing volume, this is the first look at the racial and ethnic characteristics of the universe of residential eviction defendants.
Reinvestment Fund and its partners – the City of Philadelphia Office of Children and Families, Public Health Management Corporation and United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey – surveyed parents who have used or intend to use childcare in Philadelphia.
The purpose of the survey was to gain an understanding of what parents were doing for childcare before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, how that has changed, and what their priorities are as they contemplate returning their children to childcare. Findings from this survey will inform policymakers’ and childcare providers’ plans and processes for reopening childcare facilities.
A research brief by Reinvestment Fund and the Housing Initiative at Penn (HIP) that examines the experiences and perspectives of residential rental property owners and managers in Philadelphia. The brief examines challenges that landlords faced—including how they dealt with evictions—prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic; new or increased difficulties stemming from the pandemic; and landlords’ engagement with and attitudes towards programs aimed at stabilizing tenants in rental housing. The brief also presents considerations for policymakers as they contemplate both short-term and long-term strategies to reduce housing instability.
In 2019, the city of Mount Vernon partnered with the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Tolemi, and Reinvestment Fund through the Cities for Responsible Investment and Strategic Enforcement initiative (Cities RISE) to begin implementing a strategic code enforcement system guided by robust data and market analytics. The lessons offered in this case study of Mount Vernon can help inform other communities looking to leverage data into meaningful operational and policy changes.
In 2019 Policy Solutions partnered with Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) to conduct a study of historical patterns of homeownership rates for different racial/ethnic groups throughout the 21st century. The study findings highlight the ongoing persistence of gaps in White and non-White homeownership throughout Pennsylvania.