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Evictions in the Treasure Valley back on the rise

A white piece of paper that says "three-day notice to pay rent or vacate" with signatures.
DAVID STAATS
/
Idaho Statesman

Boise housing support nonprofit Jesse Tree projects total eviction filings in the Treasure Valley this year could reach four figures, an 18% increase from last year. The group compiled eviction data from the Idaho Supreme Court in a report released last week.

In 2021, 479 property managers filed for 819 evictions last year - about a 9% increase from 2020. Most of the increase in 2021 happened in Canyon County. So far this year, eviction filings have grown more in Ada County.

Just two landlords filed 14% of last year's total evictions. Jesse Tree's report did not identify those landlords but noted no others came close.

Overall, eviction filings are still below what they were in 2019, but filings began to increase from pandemic lows following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in August last year, striking down the federal moratorium on eviction. That policy had offered some protections, but tenants could still be evicted for missing rent payments if they were not also attempting to get federal rent assistance.

Some states or municipalities continued to prohibit many evictions after that decision, but many of those local policies have already expired or will soon. Idaho had no local eviction moratorium.

Leland Faux is an attorney with Legal Aid Idaho, representing tenants in eviction proceedings. The COVID-19 pandemic brought extra funding and attention to housing insecurity, he said.

"There is starting to be more conversation about what are some reasonable alternatives to homelessness or kicking someone out into the street that might be a win-win for the landlord and the tenant."

Faux works with clients in eastern Idaho. He said courts have been more willing to closely examine eviction cases, instead of just 'rubber stamping' them in favor of landlords. Not every eviction case ends in homelessness, Faux said, but many do.

"More often than not, [evicted tenants] don't know where to go and they end up on the street living in their car, or going up into the mountains trying to camp," he said. Others may be forced to leave the state or move in with family or friends.

He said the expedited nature of eviction cases is still detrimental to tenants.

"That's something that that I know I'm trying to push back on and have the courts think about," Faux said. "'Does every case merit an eviction or can we extend things out to make sure we're making the right decision on these types of things?'"

In the Treasure Valley, some mediation is required before a judge makes a decision in an eviction case.

Jesse Tree said its work helped reduce the number of eviction cases ending a judgment against the tenant by 21% last year. But Jesses Tree's Executive Director, Ali Rabe, said the federal rental assistance program is a significant reason landlords have stayed at the negotiating table.

"When that money runs out this spring [2023], we are expecting a flood of eviction filings," she said.

Already in 2022, Rabe said the group has received about twice as many calls for assistance as last year.

Multiple landlord associations and property investor groups were contacted for this story. None responded to requests for an interview.

Troy Oppie is a reporter and local host of 'All Things Considered' for Boise State Public Radio News.