The most recent National Multifamily Housing Council Rent Payment Tracker showed an increase in the number of apartment households that made a full or partial rent payment since January.
The NMHC found that 79.2% of respondents in its survey of 11.6 million units made a full or partial rent payment by Feb. 6. In comparison, 76.6% made a full or partial rent payment by Jan. 6, 2021.
Still, the rent payment numbers are much lower than they were before the pandemic. The 79.2% of respondents who made full or partial payment by Feb. 6 is 1.9 percentage point, or 216,479 households decrease from the share who paid rent through Feb. 6, 2020. NMHC says these data encompass a wide variety of market-rate rental properties across the US, which can vary by size, type and average rental price.
Forty-four percent of renter respondents used those stimulus payments to meet their regular financial obligations in the last seven days at the time of the survey. The Census began the survey last Spring to gauge the pandemic’s effects on households’ ability to meet their food and housing obligations.
“Those stimulus payments were really helping renters,” says Claire Gray, a research associate at National Multifamily Housing Council, in a recent video. “You can also see that they’ve relied less on those less stable sources to meet their obligations, like credit cards, borrowing from friends and family and selling assets. The stimulus payments have been very helpful.”
Looking at all households, about half of respondents used their stimulus payment to pay off debt. Roughly 22% have spent their stimulus payments and 26% have mostly saved it, according to Gray.
Doug Bibby, NMHC President, says there is a need for more support, which could be coming in the form of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion package.
“Estimates of 2020 lost rent alone range from $27 billion to nearly $60 billion, despite the impact of previous federal COVID relief efforts,” Bibby said in a prepared statement. “In the coming days and weeks, we urge members of Congress to pass legislation that directly meets renters’ basic financial hardships, protects the nation’s rental housing industry and efficiently provides funds to those who need it most.”