New Rent Debt Dashboard Illustrates the Scope of Debt Risks

With regular updates of rent debt data from around the United States, a new dashboard reveals the depths of one of the most pressing crises of the pandemic.

Read Time: 2 minutes

April 21, 2021, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Los Angeles Protest

Ringo Chiu / Shutterstock

The National Equity Atlas and the Right to the City Alliance this week launched a new rent debt dashboard with near real-time data on the number and characteristics of renters behind on rent for the United States, 45 states, and 15 metropolitan areas.

An article by Sarah Treuhaft, Jamila Henderson, Michelle Huang, Alex Ramiller, and Justin Scoggins introduces the dashboard, which raises awareness about the mounting rent debt and the potential for mass eviction as "one of the most pressing equity issues created by the Covid-19 pandemic." 

"The vast majority of renters who are in debt are low-wage workers —  disproportionately people of color — who’ve suffered job and income losses due to the pandemic," according to the article.

The aggregate numbers reveal a debt crisis of a similar scale of the foreclosure crisis of the Great Recession. "As of the end of March 2021, 5.7 million renters – 14 percent of all renter households – were behind on their rent payments," according to the article. The total rent debt owed is estimated at $20 billion. "For comparison, nearly 8 million households lost their homes to foreclosure due to the 2008 financial crisis."

Solutions to all that mounting debt, according to the article, include eviction protection, debt relief, and financial support. With that support, many of these millions of renter households will face eviction.

The dashboard draws data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey and the University of Southern California Center for Economic and Social Research's Understanding Coronavirus in America survey, and will be refreshed approximately every two weeks. The full methodology is available online here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021 in National Equity Atlas

Chicago Commute

The Right to Mobility

As we consider how to decarbonize transportation, preserving mobility, especially for lower- and middle-income people, must be a priority.

January 26, 2023 - Angie Schmitt

Aerial view of Bend, Oregon with river and old mill district

Bend Eliminates Parking Minimums

The city is complying with an Oregon state mandate that some cities have challenged in court.

January 20, 2023 - KTVZ

Sunset view over canal and downtown Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale Cuts Water Supply to Nearby Suburb

The city claims it has no responsibility to provide water to the unincorporated Maricopa County community.

January 18, 2023 - The Washington Post

Aerial view of Ogden, Utah with Wasatch Mountains in the background

Utah Could Eliminate Parking Requirements Near Transit

A proposed state bill would bar cities from requiring parking in areas adjacent to transit stations in an effort to make housing production more affordable and encourage walking and transit use.

7 hours ago - The Salt Lake Tribune

People on bikes on crowded Rue de Rivoli in Paris in 2020

Where Pandemic Bike Improvements Won Out

While some cities are reverting back to pre-pandemic street configurations, others are taking advantage of the momentum for bike and pedestrian infrastructure to make pandemic-era projects permanent.

January 29 - Momentum Magazine

Atlanta Rail Service

Atlanta Transit Plans Stall Due to Budget Concerns

With MARTA facing a potential billion dollar shortfall, the agency says it can’t fulfill its system expansion plan.

January 29 - Urbanize Atlanta