The financial toll of the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting renters and landlords hard. Eighteen percent of renters—or about 10 million—were behind on their monthly housing payments at the beginning of January, according to a report from Moody’s Analytics and the Urban Institute.
As renters continue to struggle, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently extended its eviction moratorium through the end of March. Also, $25 billion in rental assistance to renters and property owners started being released to states last week. But housing groups say more information is needed regarding who is eligible for the funds. Even with rental assistance, about 6.3 million renters will still be behind on their payments by March, say study authors Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, and Jim Parrott, a fellow at the Urban Institute.
The average delinquent renter currently owes about $5,600—including utilities and late fees—which represents about four months of missed payments, according to the analysis. “Compared to renters who are making their rent payments on time, currently delinquent renters are more likely to be lower-income, less educated, Black, and with children,” Zandi and Parrott noted in the report. “Eviction is a serious possibility.”
Extending the eviction moratorium is not sufficient on its own, housing groups say. Property owners need more assistance, too. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the National Association of REALTORS® and other housing groups have pushed for rental assistance to help landlords who are struggling to pay their mortgages.
In its $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package, the Biden administration has proposed $25 billion in additional rental assistance, but housing groups say it may not be enough. “Allocated rental assistance funds do not fully address the $70 billion in outstanding debt nor accruing debt moving forward,” says the National Multifamily Housing Council. “The industry simply cannot continue operation under these policies without disastrous harm to housing affordability.”
“Nearly 20% of Renters in America Are Behind on Their Payments,” CNBC (Jan. 25, 2021)