By the Numbers: Evictions in San Jose, Santa Clara County

A new database compiled by renowned sociologist Matthew Desmond gives us the clearest picture yet of the silent epidemic of displacement in the U.S.

The author-researcher and his team combed through 80 million eviction records across the country to come up with the statistics, which are far less grim here in Silicon Valley compared to regions on the East Coast. Keep in mind, though, that the Eviction Lab only tracked court-enforced evictions, which is just one form of displacement.

The number of evictions recorded in San Jose in 2016. That comes to 1.58 households evicted every day in the city of a million-plus people, which is down from 738 evictions in 2015 and 1,097 the year before that. And it’s nowhere near the rate of little North Charleston, South Carolina, which saw the highest number of evictions in the U.S., with 3,660 evictions in the same time frame.

The number of court filings from the year 2000 to 2016 that Desmond and his team combed through nationwide to come up with their Eviction Lab database. The first-of-its-kind tally showed that in 2016, landlords ousted 2,461 people a day throughout the U.S. for a grand total of 2.3 million evicted households. That’s a conservative estimate, however, because it only counts evictions that touched the legal process.

The number of court-documented evictions in all of Santa Clara County in 2016, or about 2.37 evictions a day, which is a considerable drop from 1,596 in 2014 and 1,148 in 2015. But it’s way down from the 2,340 evictions recorded in the county in 2000.

Just about 1 in every 3 households in San Jose are considered rent burdened, which means they pay more than a third of their combined income on rent. Being rent burdened puts people at greater risk of displacement.

The number of California households evicted 2016—which is less than half the number evicted during the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009.

Source: Eviction Lab


  1. So 576 evictions in 2016 (21% drop), 738 in 2015 (32% drop) and 1097 in 2014. Evictions have dropped around 50% between 2014-2016 and yet the tenants created a false narrative about rampant evictions to support a Just Cause ordinance. Clearly their fear-mongering has accomplished their goal of passing a policy that clearly wasn’t needed. When Matthew Desmond was asked about rent control, he was luke warm on it. Lets me put that in another way…the MAN who wrote the book called EVICTED was NOT convinced about the benefits of RENT CONTROL. That’s because he understands its failures. But it’s going to be the tenants who suffer in the long run and when they do, its going to be because SV rising, law foundation, and the unions. Thanks guys

    • Just Cause is not the same as rent control. One limits rent increases, and the other restricts landlords’ ability to evict tenants without a reason. Most evictions never go to court. No cause evictions , when they were legal, almost never led to a court case. Desmond has been noncommittal on limiting rent increases (rent control) not protecting tenants from unjust evictions (just cause).
      This article frankly tells us little about the costs or benefits of just cause eviction protections.

  2. Previous comment said it all. The handout brigade will never stop.

    With all the mandates on who to hire what to build, coupled with international demand, housing in the valley will never be affordable. The only solution is to improve transit from suburbs and exurbs.

    On a slightly unrelated note, just watch SVR and their ilk screw up downtown SJs Google development with their insatiable demands.

  3. And San Jose Inside advertises this article with “A new database compiled by renowned sociologist Matthew Desmond gives us the clearest picture yet of the SILENT EPIDEMIC OF DISPLACEMENT “. (allcaps added for emphasis). How about a more accurate summary – “Evictions drop by 50% in 3 years”, or “San Jose makes significant progress stemming the epidemic of evictions despite fast-rising rents”. I’m all for click-bait, but PLEASE keep some journalistic integrity in conveying the key themes of the information. That said, I know evictions for anyone is traumatizing. But it seems fewer landlords are going this route than in the past or more people are keeping up with their rent commitments. That’s very good news.

    • These are only evictions that go through the courts. “No cause” evictions, where the landlord just gives tenants 60 or 90 days to move, almost never end up in court. We saw a rash of “no cause” evictions in the last few years that led the city council to pass contructive ordinances to limit the cases in which landlords can evict tenants.
      None of our reality is going to be captured in Desmond’s data. He is measuring something else. Ironically our court ordered evictions may go up, now that landlords are more likely to have to go to court to evict, even as the decrease in “no cause” evictions may mean that total displacement is going down. .

  4. Perhaps you missed the part about the 576 COURT-ENFORCED evictions. Many tenants are kicked out and they do not bother going to court. Just the tip of the iceberg.

  5. Steve,

    Thanks for that observation. May I add something? Thank you.

    Here’s my 2¢:

    Tenants have a legal right to appear in court to explain their side of it. Wouldn’t you think that if someone was facing eviction, that they’d at least try to stop it from happening? Yet, the court upheld those evictions.

    There is a reason they don’t argue their case, and since the ‘Eviction Lab’ doesn’t mention it, may I? Again, thank you:

    As a long-ago LandLord (dontcha just love that label?), I have plenty of experience with tenants and evictions. Since the writer of the article completely ignored the property owner, may I give their perspective?

    Well over 90% of all evictions are done for just one reason: Failure to pay as agreed. (The other evictions are drug related, and/or repeatedly disturbing the other tenants, or violating the agreement by subletting to others, etc.)

    When someone stops paying the rent they don’t just pay part of it, they stop paying anything at all. The reason is simple; they’ve been advised by folks at the ‘Eviction Lab’, or by friends, or by other tenants, that it takes months to evict someone. In the interim, they can stay there rent-free. And if the property owner makes even a tiny procedural misteak, judges are only too happy to re-set the whole process, so the owner has to start over. That’s just one of the things that makes being a LandLord so much fun.

    But in the final analysis the deadbeat tenants realize that there’s nothing they can say to the judge. For whatever reason, they didn’t pay as agreed. Case closed. Next…

    And when you think about it, if the property owner felt charitable and let them stay, what about the other tenants, the ones who always pay on time? Would it be fair to them to give free rent to the deadbeats? Shall we ask them? Because the author of this article didn’t.

    But this article avoids that side of the situation, and the property owners’ side, which shows that this is just more fake news. It’s simply propaganda, because most of the article’s 83 MILLION!! “court filings” (AKA: unlawful detainers) never resulted in an eviction (because there’s something about being served with court papers that convinces a tenant in arrears that it’s time to rearrange their financial priorities).

    And there are very few genuine pictures like the one at the top of this article, since the tenant knows exactly when the Sheriff is scheduled to arrive and meet the owner and his locksmith, to enforce the court order. So I suspect that is a bogus picture, staged to generate public sympathy by showing what big meanies those dastardly landlords are. But it’s just more fake news from the Silicon Valley ‘Newsroom’.

    Evicted tenants typically wait until the very last day before they skedaddle. If the ‘Silicon Valley Newsroom’ wanted an honest picture, they’d send their photographer out to take pics of the condition the apartment was left in by the deadbeat.

    So, Steve, did we learn anything here? I trust you’re not still head-nodding along with this fake news story. Otherwise, I’ve wasted a lot of typing…

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