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Rent hardship during pandemic widespread among minority renters

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New reports show that renters of color and families with children have experienced the most significant housing hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic. One report reveals that women of color have been especially likely to lose income and fall behind on rent.

Black and Latino renters faced largest hardships

A new Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) report looks at who lost income and fell behind on rent during the pandemic.

Using data from the Census Household Pulse Survey, CBPP found that larger shares of Black and Latino renters lost income and faced housing hardships than white renters.

Among Latino rental households, 65% reported a loss of income during the pandemic. Among Black renters, 57% of households saw a loss of income because of the pandemic. White renters did a little better, with 51% reporting a loss of income.

Black and Latino renters were more likely to owe back rent during the pandemic than white renters. One-third of Black and one-quarter of Latino renter households were behind on rent during the pandemic, compared with 13% of white renters. 

White renters have seen more recovery than renters of color. As of February, 2022, 28% of Black renters still owed back rent, while only 4% if white renters are still behind on rent.

Low-income women of color hurt most by pandemic

The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) released a report looking at how the pandemic impacted women of color. NWLC also reviewed Census Household Pulse Survey data, and found that women of color who are renters were hurt the most by the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Black and Latina women were far more likely than white men to have lost jobs and income during the pandemic. Nearly one-quarter of Latina renters and one-fifth of Black women renters lost employment income. Among white men who rent, only11% lost income.

Women of color were also more likely to fall behind on rent. Almost 31% of Black women renters and 20% of Latina renters were behind on rent in December 2021. Nine percent of renters who are white men were behind.

Almost 31% of Black women renters and 20% of Latina renters were behind on rent in December 2021.

Renters with children hit hard

Renter households with children were hit especially hard during the pandemic. A large share of these households are headed by women of color. 

At the height of the pandemic in January, 2021, 28% of renter households with children were behind on their rent compared with 13% of renters without children. There has been some recent improvement, with 20% of renters with children still owing back rent in March, 2022. This means that one in five renters with children still remain behind on rent.

This means that one in five renters with children still remain behind on rent.

Black, Latina, and white women who rent were more likely to receive enhanced Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments than white men during the pandemic. The enhanced CTC provided a refundable tax credit that could be received in monthly payments. Covering rent was one of the most common uses of the CTC payments. It expired at the end of December, 2021.

Housing hardship concentrated in the South and New York

CBPP found that housing hardship was more concentrated in the South and the New York area. Eight of the top ten states with households behind on rent were in the South, with New York and New Jersey rounding out the list.Mississippi had the most housing hardship, with 24% of renter households behind on rent during the pandemic.

Southern states with the largest share of Black renters also had the most renters behind on rent. Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina lead the country in the share of their renters with back rent. Since renters of color experienced substantial hardship during the pandemic, this makes sense.

Renters in these southern states also led the nation in reporting a fear of eviction. In Louisiana, 61% of renters behind on rent felt eviction was somewhat likely in the next couple of weeks. In Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina, more than half of renters with past due rent worried about eviction.

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