COLLEGE PARK (9/2/20) — For the last year, the University of Maryland‘s Howard Center for Investigative Journalism has collaborated with universities from coast to coast to examine the impact of homelessness.

Its initial stories dove deeply into the criminalization of homelessness and the treatment of homeless encampments in cities across the U.S. This summer, the project expanded to include those who could join the ranks of the homeless after the arrival of the coronavirus caused millions of people to lose their jobs.

Recognizing that threat, Congress passed and the president signed a federal eviction moratorium in March that banned evictions for up to 20 million households. But from the outset, flaws in the hastily written legislation began to appear.

The latest package in the “Nowhere To Go” series uses court records, eviction data, public records and interviews with landlords, tenants and housing experts to assess how the CARES Act eviction moratorium played out on the ground. The Howard Center found confusion at every level, which led to selective enforcement of the law and unequal treatment for renters.

The project was published by The Associated Press, Gannett and the UMD Philip Merrill College of Journalism‘s Capital News Service.

Congress allowed the moratorium to lapse July 24, which could set off a wave of evictions in the fall — swelling the ranks of the nation’s half-million homeless people — if it is not replaced.

The eviction project was led by the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism. The Howard Center collaborated with Big Local News at Stanford University and journalism departments at Boston University and the University of Arkansas.

It was supported by grants from the Pulitzer Center, the Scripps Howard Foundation and the Park Foundation.

The work built on the expertise the journalism students acquired in reporting on homeless encampments in the U.S. and cities’ increasing use of criminal statutes to arrest their way out of homeless problems. In addition to Maryland, Stanford, Boston and Arkansas, the homeless project also included students and faculty from the University of Oregon, the University of Florida and Arizona State University.

The series was made possible by support from the Scripps Howard Foundation, which created the Howard Center to honor the late news industry executive and pioneer Roy W. Howard.

Read the full “Nowhere To Go” project on homelessness in the U.S.

For more information, contact:
Josh Land