Analysis: America may face a new pandemic of evictions when CDC’s national evictions moratorium expires on July 31, 2021

Our new county-level analysis finds that 6.2 million renting households are still behind on rent and could face eviction next week

Picture of signs on the ground after people gathered outside an apartment complex with the intention to stop the alleged eviction of one of the tenants in Mount Rainier, Md., last year.
Image from our The New York Times Opinion piece on this topic: Signs on the ground after people gathered outside an apartment complex with the intention to stop the alleged eviction of one of the tenants in Mount Rainier, Md., last year. (Credit Leah Millis/Reuters)
Surgo Ventures Interactive map to explore county-level rental arrears estimates across the country.
Surgo Ventures interactive map to explore county-level rental arrears estimates across the country.

Finding 1: After alarming winter surges, national arrears declined, but now have plateaued at levels similar to the height of unemployment in April 2020.

  • We estimate that 6.2M households are behind on rent, which represents 15% of all renting households in the U.S.
  • The bill is $3,700 per household in arrears on average, totaling $23B nationally.
  • As of July 2021, 250 counties (or 8% of all U.S. counties) are at especially grave risk, with more than 1 in 5 households in these counties facing rental debt.

Finding 2: Renters in the South have been impacted most severely and face the steepest bill, yet counties are in crisis across each region of the United States.

  • In the South, 16% of households face rental arrears with $8.4B total dollars owed as of July 2021 — the most of any U.S. region.
  • The Northeast also has 16% in arrears as of July 2021, driven by severely impacted counties with large rental populations. However, regional debt is lower, at $5.5B, with fewer total renters than other regions.
  • Fewer renters are affected in the West — 14% of households as of July 2021 — though dollars owed per renter is high, resulting in the second-highest total debt owed at $7.0B.
  • The Midwest has a lower overall burden, with a regional average of 13% of renters affected and the lowest total debt, at $3.3B. However, counties with greater arrears than the regional average should still be considered in crisis.

Finding 3: There are large differences in arrears between counties, even within the same state, signaling a need for a hyper-local response.

  • Compared to a 25% peak in November 2020, rental arrears in South Carolina have improved somewhat, now at 22% — yet all counties within the state do not follow this pattern, signaling the need for a hyper-local, tailored response.
  • In Georgia, as of July 2021, 14% of Columbia County renters are behind on payment, yet the rate is nearly double, at 24%, just next door in Richmond County.
The New York Times Opinion interactive map to explore the average amount owed in rent by county.
The New York Times Opinion interactive map to explore the average amount owed in rent by county.
List of actions that federal, state, and local community leaders can take to address the looming eviction crisis, organized by ways to advocate, respond with precision, and investigate further.

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