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.

April 21, 2021, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


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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

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