US housing crisis to worsen after pandemic, studies say
NEW YORK — Over 4 million people say they fear being evicted or foreclosed upon in the coming months, just as two studies released Wednesday found that the nation’s housing availability and affordability crisis is expected to worsen significantly after the pandemic.
The studies come as a federal eviction moratorium is set to expire at the end of the month. The moratorium has kept many tenants owing back rent housed. Making matters worse, the tens of billions of dollars in federal emergency rental assistance that was supposed to solve the problem has not reached most tenants.
The housing crisis, the studies found, risks widening the gap between Black, Latino and white households, and as well as putting homeownership out of the reach of lower-income Americans.
The reports were released on the same day the Census Bureau’s biweekly Household Pulse Survey came out.
It showed nearly 4.2 million people nationwide report it is likely or somewhat likely they will be evicted or foreclosed upon in the next two months.
Many of those tenants are waiting to see what becomes of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eviction moratorium, which is set expire June 30. Housing advocates are pressuring President Joe Biden’s administration to extend it. They argue extending it would give states the time to distribute more than $45 billion in rental assistance and protect vulnerable communities from COVID-19.
“The latest data confirm two things — emergency rental assistance is very slow to reach renters in need, and millions of renters remain behind on rent and at heightened risk of evictions,” Diane Yentel, president of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, said in an email.
The reports by Harvard University and the National Association of Realtors reach the same conclusion: The United States isn’t building enough housing to address population growth, causing record low home availability, and rising home prices are putting homeownership out of reach of millions of Americans.
Without substantial changes in homebuilding and home affordability, both reports say, the result will be a more-or-less permanent class of renters contrasted with what will likely be a mostly white class of homeowners.
“These disparities are likely to persist even as the economy recovers, with many lower-income households slow to regain their financial footing and facing possible eviction or foreclosure,” researchers at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University wrote.
A separate study commissioned by the National Association of Realtors found that the U.S. housing market needs to build at least 5.5 million new units to keep up with demand and keeping home ownership affordable over the next 10 years. That’s on top of the roughly 1.2 million units built per year on average just to keep up with demand.