As local, state and federal eviction moratoriums took effect early on in the pandemic, the number of eviction filings in Eviction Lab’s tracked locations fell precipitously, as the chart above illustrates. Eviction filings remained well below pre-pandemic levels for the rest of 2020 and into 2021, supported by the continued eviction bans and the rollout of rental assistance.

But the chart also shows that filings have crept back up as federal and state eviction moratoriums have expired. Filings for the first six months of 2022 were 89% higher than the first six months of 2021, and in March 2022, eviction filings nearly reached the pre-pandemic average for that month. The last of the federal-rental-relief money is expected to be paid out in the coming months, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which implemented ERAP.

The federal efforts “supported people at a time of extreme crisis,” Emily Benfer told FRONTLINE in Facing Eviction. She tracked the policies’ impact for Eviction Lab before going to work for the White House, helping implement rental relief. She has since left the White House and is now a visiting professor at the George Washington University Law School.

As the documentary shows, some cities and states struggled to disburse the federal assistance.

But “the communities that were able to distribute rental assistance had lower displacement rates,” Benfer said. “So all of these interventions, these measures, they’re important and they matter.”

As assistance programs end, however, evictions could continue trending upward. “Housing is foundational,” Benfer said. “It’s a pillar of resiliency in the same way that employment and education are. But if you knock out that one pillar — housing, where you live, your home — you can’t access any of the others.”