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State Eviction Moratoriums During the COVID-19 Pandemic Were Associated With Improved Mental Health Among People Who Rent

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many U.S. states implemented eviction moratoriums in 2020. Evidence from eviction filings from that year shows short-term declines in eviction filings. This study examined the short-term effects of these state eviction moratoriums in 2020 on the mental health status of renters. It employed nationally representative data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and a triple-difference design that compared renters with homeowners while leveraging state differences in moratoriums over time. During 2020, 43 states and Washington D.C. implemented eviction moratoriums of varying scope and enforcement. Some moratoriums targeted the whole eviction process, including early states, whereas others focused on the later stages of eviction. We found that state moratoriums were associated with an improvement in mental health, including fewer days not in good mental health in the past 30 days and a lower likelihood of frequent mental distress (14 or more days not in good mental health in the past 30 days). Overall, there is some evidence from this study pointing to potential short-term benefits from state eviction moratoriums in 2020 to the mental health and well-being of renters, which would be important to consider when formulating policies that affect residential stability.