In the reporting of “Fighting to keep my place’: How a housing program to help families out of poverty may trap some in it,” Mississippi Today used the following methodology:

Using Eviction Lab – a Princeton-based research team – data that aggregated every eviction across the nation from 2000 to 2016 and ranked Jackson fifth and Mississippi eighth highest for eviction rates, we analyzed trends and demographic data from the same 17-year window and narrowed our focus to DeSoto and Hinds counties. Tunica had the state’s highest eviction records according to the data, but we excluded it from original analysis due to its small population.

We specifically zeroed in on Horn Lake, Southaven and Jackson – all of which consistently ranked highest for mid- to large-size cities for per-capita evictions compared to their county and the state overall, and represent very different parts of the state.

In a Mississippi Today analysis of every eviction in DeSoto County from 2006 to July 2018 (more than 17,000 eviction court filings), we found a high rate of repeat evictions in justice court.

Repeat evictions differ from estimates of actual removals, calculated by the Eviction Lab. To compare individual complexes, we narrowed our court record search to landlords who evicted 20 times or more across ten years. To compare these landlords to county and city rates, we used the same methodology as the Eviction Lab. Estimates of actual removals, or eviction rate, is calculated by the number of evictions per number of rental units in a given area, averaged over time. We removed repeat eviction judgments from this calculation to control for that effect.

Using the same methods as the Eviction Lab and counting all repeat evictions as just filings until the final one, tax-credit complexes in DeSoto evict 12 percent of low-income renters.

To acknowledge the reality of repeat eviction judgments — or when a tenant is brought through the court system multiple times for late payments in the same rental unit and receives multiple eviction judgments but is not removed from the unit — we calculated all eviction judgments awarded to a particular complex per number of units. In tax credit developments that evict, including repeat cases elevates their overall eviction judgment rate to 20 percent — or one in five tax-credit renters see eviction judgments.

The repeat eviction judgment calculation is only available for complexes that track total number of units. In narrowing our search to tax-credit units, we used total number of low-income units on HUD’s database as the denominator. This number is usually a large percentage of the total complex, as tax-credit developments are more likely to win tax credit awards to build their complex if they agree to keep most, if not all, of the complex at a low-income rate. Using this denominator keeps our eviction rate estimates conservative.

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Erica Hensley, a native of Atlanta, has been working as an investigative reporter focusing on public health for Mississippi Today since May 2018. She is a Knight Foundation fellow for our newsroom’s collaboration with local TV station WLBT and curates The Inform[H]er, our monthly women and girls’ newsletter. She is the 2019 recipient of the Doris O'Donnell Innovations in Investigative Journalism Fellowship. Erica received a bachelor’s in print journalism and political science from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and a master’s in health and medical journalism from the University of Georgia Grady College for Journalism and Mass Communication.