Photo of three Americans standing in their own voting booths to place a vote for an election.

Renters lag behind homeowners in voter turnout

Photo of three Americans standing in their own voting booths to place a vote for an election.

Renters and those with low incomes voted at roughly half the rate of homeowners in the 2022 midterm elections, according to a survey by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Census Bureau found that 58% of eligible homeowners voted in the 2022 midterms, but only 37% of eligible renters voted.

And low-income voters also turned out at much lower rates than wealthy voters. Only 33% of voters earning less than $20,000 participated in the midterms, compared with 67% of voters earning more than $100,000.

With homeowners voting at much higher rates than renters, it makes sense that almost no federal, state, or local elected officials are renters.

The voting gap does close the longer renters can live in the same place. Among all eligible voters (renters and owners alike), 41% of those in their homes less than a year voted. However, 68% of those in their homes for more than five years voted.

Renters in their homes for five years or more voted at higher rates than owners in their homes for less than a year (58% vs. 50%). These findings suggest that helping renters stay in affordable housing can also increase their clout at the ballot box.

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Children in government housing face higher risk of school segregation

Children who live in government-assisted housing are more likely to attend schools with greater economic and racial segregation, according to a research brief from the Urban Institute.

School districts with at least one Public Housing or LIHTC property had larger shares of Black and Latinx students, and larger shares of low-income students, than school districts without a government-assisted property.

Children living in government-assisted housing are also more likely to go to schools with “extreme isolation.” This means that 75% or more students are Black, Latinx, or low-income. 

Almost 80% of schools in a zone with both Public Housing and LIHTC properties had this level of segregation. However, only 49% of schools without government-assisted housing nearby were extremely isolated.

The report mapped the locations of Public Housing and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) properties in four of the five largest cities in Texas. It compared these locations with state and federal data on school districts lines, school locations, and student demographics.

Pandemic assistance reduced eviction filings by almost 60%, report says

Eviction filing rates were 58% lower than expected in 2020 and 2021, according to new research. As stated in the Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, policies enacted to protect renters during the pandemic kept millions of families in their homes.

Eviction moratoriums and Emergency Rental Assistance provided direct housing assistance to low-income renters during the pandemic. But other policies, such as enhanced unemployment benefits and Child Tax Credits, also helped low-income tenants pay the rent.

The report’s authors also showed how much eviction bans helped low-income renters. In places where there was a strong eviction moratorium there was a 29% average drop in eviction filings. In places where a strong eviction moratorium was lifted, there was a 44% rise in filings.

Historically, eviction rates have typically been highest in low-income and majority Black neighborhoods. The report found that the drop in eviction filings during the pandemic was most significant in poor and Black neighborhoods. This shows that pandemic assistance was able to reach the most vulnerable low-income renters.

Check back every Wednesday to get the latest housing news for low-income renters from Affordable Housing Online!