The Cost of Eviction and Unpaid Bills of Financially Insecure Families for City Budgets

The financial health of cities depends on financially secure residents. Families with even a small amount of readily available savings are less likely to be evicted, miss a housing or utility payment, or receive public benefits when income disruptions occur. When families have little to no savings and experience a disruption in their income or expenses, bills may be missed and consequences such as eviction may result. We assess the cost that each of 10 cities incurs when financially insecure residents (those with less than $2,000 in savings) are evicted or cannot pay their property taxes or utility bills. Across these cities, the costs range from the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars, suggesting that cities have an economic interest in helping to improve their residents’ financial health.

The technical appendix that describes the data and methods can be found here.

The Urban Institute is collaborating with JPMorgan Chase over five years to inform and assess JPMorgan Chase’s philanthropic investments in key initiatives. One of these is financial capability, a multipronged effort to improve household and community financial health by identifying, supporting, and scaling innovative solutions that help low- and moderate-income families increase savings, improve credit, and build assets. The goals of the collaboration include using data and evidence to inform JPMorgan Chase’s philanthropic investments, assessing whether its programs are achieving desired outcomes, and informing the larger fields of policy, philanthropy, and practice. This project highlights the impact financial insecurity has on city budgets and on families.