UB social work researcher named to national panel to address evictions

Release Date: December 7, 2020

Portrait of UB social work researcher Kelly Patterson.
“It is imperative that we stem this tide because the economic, social, emotional, and physical costs carry profound and lasting consequences. ”
Kelly Patterson, associate professor of social work
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – A University at Buffalo social work researcher has been appointed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) to its multidisciplinary strategy group that will address the impact of COVID-19 on the eviction crisis confronting millions of Americans.

Kelly Patterson, an associate professor in UB’s School of Social Work and an expert in subsidized housing policy, poverty and economic inequality, is the only social worker on the 21-member panel of stakeholders from government, academia and industry who comprise NASEM’s Response and Resilient Recovery Strategic Science Initiative (R3SSI).

The group will inform decision making critical to planning for a crisis response and recovery.

“I am excited and honored to actively collaborate with an interprofessional group of experts who approach this humanitarian crisis in multiple ways,” says Patterson. “My trauma-informed and human rights perspective can help contribute to our ultimate common goal of advising the academy on how best to mitigate and prevent evictions and the associated harm they will cause.”

About 6.7 million households could face eviction in the coming months, according to a report issued Nov. 19 by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the University of Arizona. That’s about 19 million people potentially losing their homes, and Patterson says that report is among the more conservative estimates.

The Aspen Institute, Marketwatch and CNBC estimate between 30 and 40 million people may be at risk of eviction through the end of the year, when state and federal eviction bans issued during the pandemic are set to expire.

The strategy group will analyze the pandemic’s effects on rental property evictions within low- and middle-income communities and disadvantaged groups over both the near term (the next 6-24 months) and the mid-term (the next 3-5 years). It will conduct rapid, scenario-based analyses of possible and probable outcomes, including the possibility that a wave of evictions will emerge amid a weak economic recovery from the pandemic.

“The numbers are staggering, and many people are just hanging on as they look toward an uncertain future,” says Patterson. “It is imperative that we stem this tide because the economic, social, emotional, and physical costs carry profound and lasting consequences.”

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