Research Shows Subsidized Households in NY and CA Experienced Lower Levels of Nonpayment of Rent Compared to Unsubsidized Households During the Pandemic

Date Published: 
October 5th, 2021

This month, two members of the Housing Crisis Research Center (HCRC) - Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley and the NYU Furman Center – released a comparative brief documenting the declines in rent payments and the increase in rental arrears among a set of affordable housing portfolios in California and New York. The goal of this brief was to measure the impact federal housing subsidies had throughout the pandemic on reducing instances of delayed or missed rental payments for households residing in affordable housing within these two markets. While there were differences in each state’s datum, there were several keyfindings that illustrate how rental subsidies were able to mitigate the effects of nonpayment of rent for affordable housing residents. 

  • In both locations, the share of households missing a full rent payment in a given month increased after the economic shutdown in March 2020 and remained at high levels through 2020. 
  • Both subsidized and unsubsidized households saw increases in nonpayment of rent after the onset of the pandemic, with unsubsidized households hit particularly hard in the California sample. 
  • While both subsidized and unsubsidized households experienced marked increases in nonpayment rates during the pandemic, subsidized households accrued lower levels of rental arrears, as their tenant-charged rent is substantially lower than that of unsubsidized tenants
  • Unsubsidized households without fixed incomes had the greatest increase in nonpayment rates and accrued higher levels of arrears during the pandemic..

The samples used for this study varied in terms of characteristics, with the New York data set covering three firms and 14,000 households, compared to the California set only using one firm and 8,500 households. Other differences include calculation of rent payment data (tenant portion of rent vs. combined tenant portion and subsidy), cumulative arrear data, share of households receiving subsidies (45% vs 56%), and the collection of demographic data.

You can locate the full report here. 

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