The Household Pulse Survey data have also shown consistently that approximately one-third of all renters have either no confidence or only slight confidence that they will be able to make next month’s rent. The survey also includes a question about whether or not their rent payment was late, and the percentage who were late has never reached one-third, meaning that many of the overall renters have somehow been able to make their rent payments so far. But how long does “so far” continue for?
No Government Shutdowns Doesn’t Mean the Economy Won’t Be Affected
An argument against continuing the existing financial assistance has been that it dissuades people from going back to work, and now that jurisdictions have lifted restrictions, it could impair the economy. But there may be other factors that will keep people from going back to work.
Austan Goolsbee and Chad Syverson’s recent analysis of economic activity in metro areas that spanned jurisdictions with shutdowns and without found that it was not government shutdowns, but rather the intensity of the virus, that influenced consumer spending. With COVID-19 infections soaring in multiple jurisdictions, consumers may be less likely to begin venturing out of their houses, meaning fewer revenues and less of an ability to continue paying employees.
In addition, skyrocketing infection rates mean that many school districts are beginning the academic year online. For many households, that means choosing between the costs of childcare or working. The median annual childcare fee for a 4-year-old child in 2017 was $8,672 according to Child Care Aware for America. For working-class families, that represents a sizeable chunk of the household budget.
The Outlook Darkens Without More Renter Assistance
These are all the business cases for why financial assistance for renters is needed; this does not consider the fact that housing insecurity is an additional worry in a period of already-heightened emotions. If there is no sort of financial assistance available for households that are unable to return to work either because they cannot due to childcare or medical issues or because there is no job to return to, we should expect that the share of residents able to make rent payments will be lower once benefits expire.
- NMHC Rent Payment Tracker Finds 90.1 Percent of Apartment Households Paid Rent as of September 20
- NMHC Rent Payment Tracker Finds 86.2 Percent of Apartment Households Paid Rent as of September 13
- NMHC COVID-19 Weekly Update (September 11)
- NMHC Rent Payment Tracker Finds 76.4 Percent of Apartment Households Paid Rent as of September 6
- Real Estate Coalition Letter on CDC Order