This report explores household rental debt amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Building on our October 2020 report, the update incorporates changes in employment and income from involuntary part-time employment, forecasts rental debt in the coming months, and examines the effects of policies like economic stimulus payments and enhanced unemployment benefits.
Key findings illustrate the hardships faced by renters and offer valuable considerations for policymakers:
- Substantial rental debt remains, particularly for households headed by minorities and women, despite labor market improvements since spring 2020.
- We estimate that in March 2021, 1.8 million renter households, representing 5 million individuals, will owe $11 billion in rent — approximately $6,100 per household. That number represents 5.4 percent of all renter householders and 15 percent of those who experienced job loss due to COVID-19.
- Current and proposed policies help address rental debt to some extent, but gaps remain. This suggests that alternative policies, such as local rental assistance programs, may be needed to address these gaps and ensure an equitable economic recovery.