Race, mental health, and evictions filings in Memphis, TN, USA


Although evictions are a major disruptor of residential stability, their contribution to health disparities is understudied. Both experiencing eviction and the threat of being evicted are associated with adverse physical and mental health outcomes. Communities with higher proportions of Black people have higher rates of eviction filings. Market characteristics alone are insufficient for explaining the clustering of eviction in neighborhoods of color. Memphis is the fastest-growing rental market in the United States, facing an eviction crisis and is rife with persistent racial health disparities. This study explored the relationship between eviction filings, mental health, and neighborhood racial composition in Memphis to inform local policy approaches. We combined health from the City Health Dashboard, 2019 American Community Survey 5-year estimates, and eviction filings from the Shelby County, TN General Sessions Civil Court. Multivariate regression models were used to examine the relationship between health outcomes and eviction filing rates while controlling other relevant neighborhood characteristics. Separate models were run based on neighborhood racial composition. Poor mental health was significantly associated with higher eviction filling rates in majority Black neighborhoods but not in majority white and racially mixed neighborhoods. These findings point to evictions as an important contributor to racial health inequities in Memphis and the importance of race-conscious policy interventions that address the dual crisis of evictions and racial health disparities.

Publication Title

Preventive Medicine Reports