US Census: Over 26 Percent of U.S. Households Can’t Make Rent This Month, and It’s Getting Worse

Members of the New Orleans Renter’s Rights assembly protest the opening of eviction courts in Louisiana. Photo by Jenn Bentley

Across the United States, there is a sense of urgency regarding the next round of expected COVID-19 relief. As eviction courts have been allowed to reopen, and with federal unemployment benefits now ended for millions across the country, many are feeling the pinch.

According to the U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey responses collected July 9 through July 14, 26.5 percent of U.S. adults either missed last month’s rent or have slight or no confidence that they can make their next rent payment on time. In addition, 51.1 percent of adults across the country live in households that have experienced a loss in employment income, and 35.2 percent expect to experience a loss of employment income.

In New Orleans, more than 230 household evictions have been filed since the state moratorium on evictions was lifted on June 15th. A separate, federal moratorium that covers at least half of the city’s remaining rental properties is set to expire on August 24th, leading many housing advocates to raise the alarm about a coming housing crisis. A statewide emergency rental assistance program launched July 16 was shut down after only four days after receiving over 40,000 applications.

“This COVID-19 pandemic has just served as both a reminder of the fragile nature of these systems and secondarily, it just exacerbated an existing problem in the state of Louisiana,” said Louisiana Housing Corporation executive director Keith Cunningham. “Rest assured we were aware that the resources we had would not address all of the concern, but our attempt again was to address those who had the most vulnerable need and try to help who we could help.” It’s estimated that the program’s $24 million budget can only help about 10,000 applicants.

CNBC graphic created by Stout Risius Ross, LLC, based on U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey Data July 2-July 7

On July 30th, protesters supported by the New Orleans Renters Rights Assembly blocked the entrance to First City Court, even piling furniture along the sidewalk in front of the building. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 50 percent of Louisiana renters will face eviction in the coming months.

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