Special Report

Missed Housing Payments Are Piling up in Nearly Every State

The COVID-19 pandemic has sent shockwaves through the American economy. Millions of Americans are filing for unemployment benefits every week, small business owners are seeing plummeting revenue, and many of those who are still working have been forced to accept pay cuts. And now, many Americans are simply unable to afford basic necessities, including housing. 

Based on a U.S. Census Bureau survey conducted from July 2 to July 7, 2020, nearly 43.4 million Americans — or 25.3% of the adult population — either missed last month’s rent or mortgage payment, or have little to no confidence that they can pay next month’s rent or mortgage on time. The share of adults who cannot afford to pay their monthly housing bill varies considerably from state to state, however. 

Using census survey data, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the states where the largest share of the population is struggling to pay rent or mortgage during the pandemic. In some parts of the country, less than 15% of adults are missing, or will likely soon miss, a rent or mortgage payment. In others, more than one-third of adults cannot afford to pay for housing. 

The federal government’s CARES Act, designed to ease financial hardship during the pandemic, implemented certain protections for renters and homeowners, including a 120-day moratorium on evictions from federally subsidized apartments. In parts of the country, state and local authorities put additional protections in place, reducing penalties for late mortgage and rent payments. Still, many of these protections — including provisions of the CARES Act — are currently due to expire before the end of the month. Here is a look at how federal funding failed to match each state’s COVID outbreak

While economic downturns can present Americans of all income levels with financial challenges, for lower income Americans, these hardships are often exacerbated. Lower income Americans typically have to spend a larger share of their income and, as a result, are less likely to be able to save and prepare for an economic downturn. Many of the states where the largest shares of adults cannot afford to make housing payments are also some of the poorest states in the country. Here is a complete list of America’s richest and poorest states.

Click here to see the share of each state’s adults who recently missed, or might soon miss a housing payment
Click here to read our methodology