American Renters Will Owe Up to $34 Billion in Back Rent by January

New Report Demonstrates the Urgent Need for Federal Emergency Rental Aid

WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. renters will owe up to $34 billion in past-due rent by January, increasing eviction filings and imposing punishing financial hardship on millions in just a few months, according to a report released today by the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA).

“This analysis is more proof that a huge wave of evictions and additional financial pain will crash on the American economy soon unless Congress authorizes emergency aid to renters,” said NCSHA Executive Director Stockton Williams.

The report, produced by Stout, Risius Ross LLC, estimates roughly 10 – 14 million renter households — home to 23 – 34 million renters — were behind on their rent by a total of roughly $12 – $17 billion as of September 14.

These renters will owe $25 – $34 billion by January, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s nationwide eviction moratorium expires. This rent shortfall estimate does not include any interest or fees landlords may charge, as allowed by the CDC eviction moratorium.

By January 2021, more than 8 million renter households — home to more than 20 million renters — could experience an eviction filing, according to the report, which assumes that landlords will file an eviction notice if a tenant is three months or more behind in rent payments.

“Even renters who avoid eviction will be forced to make painful tradeoffs,” Williams said. “They will go without food and healthcare and take on debt that will drain their resources for months and years to come.”

The report shows the current and projected rent shortfall and estimated eviction filings in every state. For example:

 StateEstimated Range of Rent Shortfall
by January 2021
Estimated Eviction Filings
by January 2021
 Arizona$461 million – $630 million150,000
 Colorado$469 million – $666 million140,000
 Florida$2.1 billion – $2.7 billion640,000
 Iowa$161 million – $211 million  70,000
 Maine$55 million – $81 million  20,000
 Michigan$603 million – $808 million240,000
 North Carolina$632 million – $824 million240,000
 Pennsylvania$697 million – $958 million240,000
 South Carolina$329 million – $429 million120,000
 Wisconsin$345 million – $465 million140,000

The catastrophic economic damage is not limited to renters. It also hurts small businesses and results in less funding for essential local services, such as schools, safety, and sanitation.

According to NCSHA’s analysis of data from the National Apartment Association, America’s accrued apartment rent burden could result in up to:

  • $6.8 – $9.2 billion in reduced apartment payroll expenses, which includes the salaries of property managers, maintenance staff, contractors, and others
  • $3.5 – $4.8 billion in cuts to local property tax revenue to fund teachers, police, firefighters, and other critical personnel
  • $2.5 – $3.4 billion in deferred maintenance and delayed repairs necessary to maintain health and safety for renters.[1]

State housing finance agencies in 33 states have stood up emergency rental assistance programs in the last six months, but they will not be able to meet the current and coming overwhelming need without more federal support.

NCSHA has joined many other housing organizations in calling on Congress to make major investments immediately in the Emergency Shelter Grants program and Housing Assistance Fund proposed program, which states could use to provide emergency rental assistance. Federal assistance must be sufficient to alleviate the harm renters and landlords have already experienced and ensure renters can remain stably housed until the economy has fully recovered.

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