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Creighton collaborates on new report about Nebraska’s pandemic evictions

Creighton ArchCreighton University’s Social Science Data Lab, in collaboration with Omaha nonprofit Together, has released a report that outlines eviction trends in Nebraska throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the report’s key findings:
- In 2020, there were 3,482 evictions in Nebraska, compared to an annual average of 6,286 between 2016-2019, a decrease of 44.6%. The decrease was largely due to state and federal moratoria on evictions.

- Nebraska’s state moratorium at the start of the pandemic significantly reduced evictions, but filings almost returned to normal in December, immediately following the worst month of the pandemic.

- Less than 5% of renters had legal representation during 2020, leaving them to navigate a complicated set of potential legal protections on their own. Researchers identified 60 potentially unlawful evictions that took place on properties that were possibly protected by the federal moratorium.

“If you look at the trends based on the months of the pandemic, it’s sort of the inverse of what you would expect,” says Pierce Greenberg, PhD, assistant professor of sociology in Creighton’s College of Arts and Sciences and head of the Social Science Data Lab. “There was more protection for renters early on, when cases weren’t that high. By the end of 2020, evictions were almost to where they were in a normal year, as the pandemic was near its worst point.”

The report, which was partially funded by the Quick Response Research Award at the Natural Hazards Center at University of Colorado-Boulder, aims to provide data to state lawmakers who are considering policy to address important questions posed by the pandemic, particularly whether or not renters being evicted should have the right to legal counsel, Greenberg says.

In 2020, just 4.43% of defendants in eviction filings had legal representation, the report states. This is an increase from the 1.66% of renters with representation reported from 2016 to 2019, thanks largely to efforts by organizations such as Legal Aid of Nebraska and the Tenant Assistance Project in Lancaster County. The research team found that eviction cases in which defendants had legal representation were more likely to be dismissed.

Without representation, renters may find it difficult to know whether their properties are covered by national and state eviction moratoria, the report states. The research team combed through more than 1,500 addresses listed on Nebraska eviction filings during the Federal CARES Act moratorium to find out how many evictions took place at protected properties. The team found 136 eviction filings in Nebraska for nonpayment of rent during the federal moratorium, with 60 cases resulting in an eviction that may have been unlawful.

With social scientists across the nation continuing to crunch the numbers on the pandemic, widespread data is still unavailable, Greenberg says.

“It’s hard to say whether that number (of potentially unlawful evictions) is better or worse or the same as other places,” he says. “The point is that it’s happening.”

About the Social Science Data Lab: The Social Science Data Lab at Creighton University aims to provide research and data services to nonprofit and advocacy groups. The project involves faculty from the Department of Cultural and Social Studies, which spans many topic areas and social research methods. To learn more visit,


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