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New Study Links Evictions To Higher COVID Cases, Deaths

an eviction notice on a front door
Steve Rhodes
Creative Commons/

A new study has found that evictions directly led to higher COVID-19 cases and deaths.

In North Carolina, the researchers estimate there were 15,000 excess cases and 300 excess deaths due to evictions from March through early September.

Kathryn Leifheit of UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health led the research.

"Of course, we know that one of the main risk factors for COVID transmission is crowded housing, and proximity to other people," Leifheit said. "So, being displaced from your own house, really limits your ability to socially distance."

Housing advocates say the findings confirm what they have believed to be true for months.

Sean Driscoll works with Legal Aid of North Carolina, which helps renters facing evictions. He says preventing evictions keeps everyone safer.

"Tenants all over North Carolina are still being evicted," Driscoll said. "Putting people out on the street during a global pandemic not only threatens the health and safety of those individuals, it puts us all at risk."

North Carolina did have an eviction moratorium in place for several months, but that expired in June. There is now a federal moratorium in place, though that doesn't cover all situations.

That federal evictions moratorium has been in place since September, but it is set to expire in the new year. North Carolina set aside more than $100 million to help households pay rent and utilities. More than 40,000 people applied for assistance.

Jason deBruyn is WUNC's Supervising Editor for Digital News, a position he took in 2024. He has been in the WUNC newsroom since 2016 as a reporter.
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