The Eviction Machine


Data collection efforts ended in December 2022. Tenant resources are updated quarterly and in some cases may be out of date.

The Eviction Machine is an organizing, advocacy, and research tool developed to understand systematic displacement, inform strategies of direct engagement on behalf of tenants, and produce data-informed critiques of the laws, policies, and actors that disrupt and devastate tenants’ lives through eviction. This project was developed by the Urban Praxis Workshop with support from Poverty Solutions and Data Driven Detroit. You can read about our methods here.

The Eviction Machine is a for-profit housing system where forced displacement is the business model. Fundamental changes in the rental market over the past decade have allowed for the consolidation of ownership by a subset of investors and speculators utilizing predatory business models to make money, particularly in low income areas and Black communities. Landlords bought deteriorating properties cheap from bank or tax foreclosure sales and rent them out without repairs or regard for local laws. These landlords churn tenants through dilapidated housing for profit, as properties cycle from foreclosure, to eviction, to public demolition – inflicting permanent damages to tenants’ and children's health and well-being in the process. Landlords increasingly rely on data from for-profit tenant surveillance companies to blacklist tenants with eviction records from future housing opportunities, relegating them to slum housing of last resort at the lowest end of the rental market.

The Eviction Machine is a legal process that privileges landlords and disempowers tenants. Eviction courts are not systems for dispensing justice, but for churning out judgments against unrepresented (mostly Black) tenants in favor of represented (mostly white) landlords. The law creates an especially fast court process for evictions called a summary proceeding that prioritizes the landlord’s claim to possession over all else. When systemic barriers exclude poor tenants from the courtroom, the law favors the landlord by default. The tenants who do appear in court are denied the right to fair and meaningful legal representation to defend their rights or even voice their concerns. The legal eviction process operates under the false premise that rights belong to the property holder while responsibilities belong to the tenant – public agencies, judges, and elected officials do not enforce existing laws and policies to protect tenants, and the protections that exist are insufficient

The Eviction Machine is a society that treats eviction like a property dispute, not a fundamental injustice. Whereas a tenant’s shelter, health, and well-being are at risk in an eviction, a landlord faces the interruption or loss of investment income. These interests are not equal. Because the power and property relationships that give rise to eviction are structured by white supremacy, capitalism, and gender-based oppression, the Eviction Machine systematically harms Black and poor people – especially women, children, disabled people, queer and trans people.