David Hoffman on Philadelphia’s eviction rates

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David Hoffman on Philadelphia’s eviction rates

In their study of eviction rates in Philadelphia, David A. Hoffman of Penn Law and Anton Strezhnev of the University of Chicago explore the role of transit to court in preventing tenants from asserting their rights. The study found that tenants living farther from the courthouse, relying on public transportation to attend their eviction hearings, were more likely to skip their hearings, resulting in eviction by default. However, when tenants were offered virtual hearings, the effect of travel on eviction rates disappeared. Controlling for other factors, the study found a causal relationship between travel time and default.

“These results open up a new way to study the drivers of this important social phenomenon – including the increased use of video technology in the courts and the relaxation of the requirement to report to the courthouse at a given time. — and can significantly reduce barriers to justice,” Hoffman said in an interview about the study. “Other alternatives, such as easy postponement and no-excuse reopening, are available and would reduce the barriers to justice that cause evictions.”

Hoffman’s research and teaching focus on contract law, with much of his work carried out in an interdisciplinary manner through collaborations with co-authors from multiple fields.

The study, titled “Longer Trips to Court Cause Evictions,” is available on SSRN.

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