Report Breaks Down Pandemic Rent Burdens by State and Metro Area

The share of U.S. households facing rent debt is decreasing as the economy begins to recover from the pandemic, but rent debt is still concentrated by geography and demographics around the country.

May 18, 2021, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


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A report by the National Equity Atlas and the Right to the City Alliance, "shows that 14% of all renting households are behind on payments, with the average amount owed being $3,400," reports Elliott Davis. The most recent data are for March, taken from from the U.S. Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey and five-year 2019 American Community Survey, as well as the University of Southern California's Center for Economic and Social Research.

According to the data, Alabama, Louisiana, and Florida are the states with the highest proportion of households carrying rent debt. Hawaii has the highest rent debt per household. The report lacks data for Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming due to insufficient data. The report also includes data for metropolitan areas.

Davis also notes the "extreme racial and socioeconomic disparities when it comes to who is behind on rent during the coronavirus pandemic." According to the report, "People of color make up 63% of the households that are in rent debt, and 78% are low-income households making less than $50,000, the data indicates."

As mentioned in articles covering the rent debt and eviction crisis in the early days of the pandemic, much of the economic stress of the pandemic has been absorbed by renters already struggling to pay the rent before the pandemic. "The National Equity Atlas' data shows that 46% of Black households, 45% of Latinx households and 42% of Native American households were "rent burdened and economically insecure" in 2019," explains Davis.

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