Report: $25B - $34B Rent Shortfall by January

Regulation | September 29, 2020 | by Linda Couch

By January 2021, 23.3 million and 34.0 million individual renters could owe between in back rent to landlords, according to a report from the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) and the research firm, Stout, Risius Ross LLC released on September 28.

By January 2021, 23.3 million and 34.0 million individual renters could owe between $25.1 billion and $34.3 billion in back rent to landlords, according to a report from the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) and the research firm, Stout, Risius Ross LLC released on September 28.

In the report, NCSHA / Stout estimate that as of September 14, 2020, there are between 9.7 million and 14.2 million renter households in the United States that may be unable to pay rent and at risk of eviction. This translates to between approximately 23.3 million and 34.0 million individual renters. Stout estimates that renter households have already accumulated between $12.2 billion and $16.7 billion of shortfall in their owed rent and that the rent shortfall for these households will be between $25.1 billion and $34.3 billion by January.

March’s CARES Act provided resources to boost HUD-assisted owners’ HUD subsidies when the portion of rents paid by tenants decreased because of COVID’s economic downturn. But, non-HUD-assisted owners have no such backstop and are intensely aware of how renters’ inability to make rent payments will impact their ability to maintain quality housing.

The $100 billion in emergency rental assistance provided by the House's May Heroes Act, and the $50 billion in emergency rental assistance, provided by the House's updated Heroes Act released September 28, would help rent-strapped tenants and their landlords through this eviction and rent shortfall crisis.

In the report, NCSHA / Stout also estimate that by January 2021, up to 8.4 million renter households, which include 20.1 million individual renters, could experience an eviction filing.

The report describes what appears to be a slow economic recovery and expected ongoing elevated unemployment, high rent burden among low income renter households, continued accumulation of unpaid rent, and continued risk of eviction beyond January 2021.

While the CDC’s eviction moratorium runs through December 31, 2020, LeadingAge and other affordable housing advocates are very concerned about the fate of renters after the end of the moratorium, when piles of back rent, fees, and penalties will come due; about the financial resiliency of landlords who have not received help from federal COVID relief programs; and about older adults who rely on financially-depleted households for groceries, health care costs, transportation, and other monetary help.

The NCSHA / Stout report also includes a chart of state-level data. For example, in Florida, NCSHA / Stout estimate that 830,000 – 1,080,000 renter households will be unable to pay rent and be at risk of eviction by January 2021. These households, according to the report, will have a combined estimated rent shortfall of between $2,130,000,000 and $2,662,000,000 by January 2021; and, the report estimates 640,000 eviction filings in Florida by January 2021.