Each year, nearly 5 million Americans lose their homes through eviction and foreclosure, and this year, as tens of millions lose their jobs due to COVID-19 and its associated economic downturn, we anticipate housing loss to be multitudes higher. The COVID-19 crisis has hit North Carolina hard, with 46 percent of households reporting that at least one person in their household has lost employment income since the pandemic began. In June 2020 Forsyth County had an unemployment rate of 8.2 percent, double the rate in June of 2019.
And yet, as we brace for a tsunami of housing loss as the result of the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, we know very little about these life-changing events. Where is forced displacement most acute? Who is most at risk? Why does housing loss occur? And what happens to people after they lose their homes?
Research conducted by New America’s Future of Property Rights Program, the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic at Wake Forest Law School, the Department of Anthropology at Wake Forest University, and the Center for the Study of Economic Mobility at Winston-Salem State, reveals that in Forsyth County residents experienced a housing loss rate of 2.6 percent from 2014 to 2018. In these five years:
- 12,276 households were evicted in Forsyth County, a 4.4 percent eviction rate.
- 2,902 households were foreclosed upon in Forsyth County, a foreclosure rate of 1 percent. Between 2014 and 2018, the foreclosure rate decreased by approximately 64 percent.
- Census tracts with predominantly non-white households and residents living below the poverty line had higher rates of eviction, foreclosure, and overall housing loss. In particular, census tracts with predominantly Black residents had substantially higher rates of mortgage foreclosure.
For years, studies have shown that Forsyth County has one of the highest rates of concentrated poverty, and one of the lowest rates of economic mobility for low-income residents, in the United States. We found that census tracts with the highest housing loss rates align with areas historically associated with segregation and redlining, as well as with tracts with high concentrations of poverty.
What does this research tell us about the intersection of housing, poverty, and economic mobility in the county, and how can it help us head off the most acute housing loss in the wake of COVID-19?
Please join us as we host a virtual panel on September 17 at 12 p.m., to discuss the findings of a year-long study of housing loss in Forsyth County.
- Displaced in Forsyth County: An Overview of Report Findings
- Yuliya Panfil, Director, Future of Property Rights program at New America
- Tim Robustelli, Policy Analyst, Future of Property Rights program at New America
- Panel Discussion: Poverty, Economic Mobility, and Housing Loss in Forsyth County
- Dr. Sherri Lawson Clark, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Wake Forest University
- Wanda Allen-Abraha, Director, City of Winston-Salem’s Human Relations Department
- Steve Virgil, Professor and Executive Director of Experiential Education, Wake Forest Law School
- Valene Franco, Managing Attorney, Legal Aid of North Carolina
- Audience Q&A
Please also tune into our national findings release event, being held virtually on Sept. 9 at noon. RSVP here.
Thanks to our partners: