Date of Award

January 2022

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Danya Keene


The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an economic crisis as well as a public health crisis. The United States experienced the highest unemployment rates in its recorded history, exacerbating the pre-existing affordable housing crisis. Anticipating the impending wave of evictions, policymakers included a ban on evictions in the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, known as the eviction moratorium. When the CARES Act moratorium expired, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ordered a temporary halt on evictions that was extended several times until August 26, 2021, and many states and localities passed their own eviction moratoria policies. Although emerging evidence suggests that the moratoria have been successful in preventing evictions and COVID-19 infections, little is known about how these policies were experienced by tenants on the ground. Drawing on qualitative data from Connecticut, Florida and Ohio, I explore the impact of landlord-tenant relationships on the implementation and efficacy of the moratoria policies. I find that the power dynamic between landlords and tenants is key to understanding how both parties navigated and interacted with these policies. Power in this context was identified in the forms of knowledge, policies and state enforcement that favored landlords in the legal system, landlords’ ability to threaten and manipulate the security of participants’ tenancy, and ideological beliefs and values that made participants less inclined to defend their rights under the moratorium. These various forms of power worked to erode and undermine tenant protections during the pandemic. Crucially, these power dynamics led to forced moves that are not captured by existing research on the eviction moratoria that only analyzes formal evictions. This study has policy implications for the broader legal landscape around landlord-tenant law.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access