In the analysis, The Coming Wave of COVID-19 Evictions: A Growing Crisis for Families in Sonoma County, we estimate the number of renter households in Sonoma County at risk of eviction upon expiration of the county’s eviction moratorium (the ordinance prevents evictions for the duration of the locally-declared emergency and for 60 days after it ends to allow tenants time to make up unpaid rent). We produce two estimates of at-risk renter households: 1) the number of renter households in which workers have lost their jobs and have no replacement income — considered imminently at risk of eviction — as well as the estimated number of children in those households; and 2) the number of renter households in which workers have lost their jobs and are receiving unemployment benefits, but whose incomes will drop below the federal poverty level upon expiration of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) (July 25, 2020). These are estimates of those most at-risk: many other households could face eviction if unprotected by the moratorium. Below are the methods and data sources used for estimating these numbers. Note that we updated the way we calculated the unemployment filing rate after finding a better data source in October, 2020; this revised our estimates upwards (from 6,000 households to 7,000 households and 4,400 children to 5,100 children at risk of eviction). In the below headings and in the fact sheet we round our estimates of households to the nearest hundred.
7,000 Renter Households at Imminent Risk of Eviction
To produce this estimate, we closely followed the methodology for estimating eviction risk developed by Gary Blasi at the UCLA Luskin Institute in the report UD Day: Impending Evictions and Homelessness in Los Angeles. To determine recently unemployed workers we start with data from the California Employment Development Department analyzed by the California Policy Lab on the number of workers that filed initial unemployment insurance (UI) claims between March 15, 2020 (the start of the COVID-19 crisis) through June 20, 2020 (the most recent data available at the time of this analysis). This is 72,271 workers in Sonoma County. The number of UI claimants, however, understates the true number of recently unemployed workers because not all of the recently unemployed file for unemployment insurance. Workers might not apply because they are ineligible for benefits (including undocumented workers, self-employed workers, and workers in the informal economy such as street vendors), or they assume ineligibility based on hours worked. Undocumented workers account for approximately 13 percent of the labor force in Los Angeles County (per Blasi), and while this estimate is not available for Sonoma County, we know there are an estimated 38,500 undocumented residents in Sonoma County, and a substantial share of undocumented adults are in the labor force. Other workers attempt to apply for unemployment but face difficulties doing so. To account for these newly unemployed workers not captured in initial unemployment insurance claims, following Blasi, we multiply the number of workers that have filed claims by 1.5 (a 50 percent increase). This multiplier reflects the experience of the Great Recession, when the total number of unemployed workers was 1.5 times the number of workers who applied for unemployment insurance. Based on this calculation, there are 108,407 Sonoma County workers that are newly unemployed, including 36,136 non-filers.
Next, we estimate the number of these workers who do not receive benefits. This includes all of the filers who do not receive benefits. According to claims data for California compiled by The Century Foundation, 5,627,732 Californian workers applied for unemployment insurance and pandemic unemployment assistance, and 862,186 did not receive benefits, or 15 percent. If 15 percent of Sonoma County filers do not receive benefits, that is 10,841 who do not receive benefits, for a total of 46,976 newly unemployed Sonoma County workers with no replacement income.
To understand how many of these workers are renters at imminent risk of eviction, we need to estimate how many of them live in rental housing. Thirty-eight percent of all housing units in Sonoma County are rental units according to 5-Year American Community Survey Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) data (which represents a 2014-2018 average), but it is possible that the share of newly unemployed workers that are renters is higher given that Latinx and immigrant workers have higher rentership rates. To estimate the rentership rate of the newly unemployed, we looked at the rentership rates of workers in industries with a disproportionate share of recent UI claims, based on the California Policy Lab data, using 2018 5-Year American Community Survey Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) data. For Sonoma County this includes the following industries: accommodation and food service; retail trade; health care and social assistance; construction; and manufacturing. In 2018, 46 percent of workers in these industries were renters so we use that multiplier to estimate that 21,609 of the newly unemployed workers with no replacement income are renters.
We estimate the distribution of these 21,609 workers into renter households based on the composition of renter households from the 2018 IPUMS data. In Sonoma County, among employed adult renters, 30.1 percent are in households with one employed adult, 45.8 percent are in households with two employed adults, and 24.1 percent are in households with three or more employed adults. Applying the share of workers by household composition to the newly unemployed renters with no replacement income, we estimate that 6,504 live in single-worker households, 9,897 live in households with two employed adults, and 5,208 live in households with three or more employed adults.
We consider all of the one-worker renter households at imminent risk of eviction since they have no replacement income and very likely have little to no savings. But for the unemployed workers with no replacement income living with other workers, we need to determine how many live in households where the other adults also are unemployed with no replacement income. For renter households with two employed adults, our estimates suggest there are 9,897 newly unemployed adults with no replacement income out of a total 46,229 employed adults — or 21.4 percent. Assuming that the newly unemployed with no replacement income are randomly distributed across these households, it follows that about 4.58 percent of them, on average, would share the same household. The result is an estimated 454 renter households with two adult workers, both unemployed with no replacement income. For the three or more working adult households, the odds all working adults would be newly unemployed with no replacement income gets very small so we assume it to be zero.
Adding the one- and two-worker households together there are 6,958 Sonoma County renter households with no adult who is employed or with replacement income to pay rent and are therefore at imminent risk of eviction. Note that in our estimation methodology, to be conservative, we assume that the workers who lose their jobs and have no replacement income and live with other working adults are not at imminent risk of eviction because the adults with income will continue to pay rent so as not to be evicted, even if it causes debt or financial hardship.
Lastly, we estimate the number of children in these at-risk households by multiplying by the average number of children in renter households with one or two employed adult workers in Sonoma County (about 0.72 and 0.85, respectively), and summing the result to get 5,088 children in households at risk of eviction.
4,400 Additional Renter Households at Risk of Eviction When the Weekly $600 FPUC Expires
We also estimate the number of households in which workers have lost their jobs and are receiving unemployment benefits, but whose incomes will drop below the federal poverty level with the expiration of the $600 weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) as of July 25, 2020. These renter households would also be at risk of eviction due to income loss during the pandemic, though somewhat less imminently than those households with zero replacement income.
To generate this estimate, we start with the estimate of Sonoma County workers who are receiving UI benefits described above: 61,430 (85 percent of the 72,271 claims that were paid). Using statewide claims data, California Policy Lab has calculated that 49 percent of workers on UI will receive benefits below the federal poverty level when the FPUC ends. Following our method above of allocating these workers to renter households, we estimate that 4,168 of them are in single working adult renter households and another 206 are in two worker households where the other worker is unemployed with no replacement income, adding up to 4,374 additional renter households that will be at risk of eviction when and if the FPUC ends.
- Primary cause of homelessness survey responses: 2019 Sonoma County Homeless Census and Survey Comprehensive Report.
- Homeless population by race/ethnicity: Sonoma County population share from the 2018 5-Year American Community Survey Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) data (which represents a 2014-2018 average) and homeless population share by race/ethnicity from the 2019 Sonoma County Homeless Census and Survey Comprehensive Report. We adjusted the homelessness data to create mutually exclusive racial/ethnic categories by assuming the non-Hispanic share of each racial group among those experiencing homelessness is the same as the non-Hispanic share of each racial group among the overall population.
- Annual eviction filings: Tenants Together, annual average of total unlawful detainer filings (formal eviction filings) in Sonoma County in 2014, 2015, and 2016 from the report, California Evictions are Fast and Frequent, by Aimee Inglis and Dean Preston, May 2018.
- Rent burdens (total and economically insecure renters by race and gender): PolicyLink/ERI analysis of 2018 5-Year American Community Survey Integrated Public Use Microdata Series. Rent-burdened is defined as spending more than 30 percent of income on housing costs. Data for 2018 represents a 2014-2018 average. Household income is based on the year prior to the survey while housing costs are based on the survey year. Data by race and gender are determined by the race and gender of the household head and are only reported if the sample size is sufficient. Economic insecurity is defined as below 350 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $87,000 for a family of four or $44,000 for a single individual. Latinos include people of Hispanic origin of any race and all other groups exclude people of Hispanic origin.
- Renter savings: According to a national analysis of 2015 Panel Study of Income Dynamics data by Pew Research, renters who were rent-burdened (paying more than 30 percent of income on rent) had an average of $10 in savings and renters who were not rent-burdened had an average of $1,000 in savings.