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. 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 improving their residents’ financial health.

Data on residents’ credit health can support cities’ efforts to tailor interventions designed to improve residents’ financial well-being and savings. Delinquent debt, credit scores, and credit use provide valuable information about residents’ financial distress, overall financial health, and access to credit.

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 health, a five-year $125 million commitment to help underserved communities increase savings, build credit, reduce debt and achieve their financial goals. The collaboration aims to use 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. In service of these goals, these factsheets present estimates of the costs of household financial insecurity to city governments in 10 cities to illustrate the financial burden that households with low savings who experience income disruptions pose to cities. The decks build on these insights and provide local leaders with additional data and visualizations about residents’ debt and credit and provide a tool to understand residents’ financial health.