03:19 GMT10 August 2020
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    A new survey by online rental platform Apartment List found that almost one-third of US households (32%) have not made their full housing payments for July amid economic insecurity caused by COVID-19 pandemic.

    The survey found that about 19% of Americans did not make any housing payments during the first week of July, while 13% only paid a part of their rent or mortgage.

    July marks the fourth straight month that a “historically high number of renters and homeowners were unable to pay their full housing bill,” according to the survey. Although things began looking up in June, as all 50 states had begun reopening their economies, new COVID-19 cases have since surged, forcing governors of many states to pause their reopening plans.

    “This continued economic hardship is having serious implications for housing security,” Apartment List warned.

    The survey also found that low-income and younger households were more likely to miss their payments than older and wealthier households. 

    “For those under 30 years old and those making less than $25,000 annually, the missed payment rate exceeded 40% in July. Missed payments also remain correlated with population density, and in medium- and high-density areas where the early spread of the virus compounded the existing stress of high housing costs, over one-third of residents are still finding it difficult to pay their bills,” the survey found.

    The survey also revealed that most of the missed housing payments in April, May and June were eventually made by the end of the month; for example, 90% of households had paid a portion or all of their rent or mortgage payments by the end of June. However, due to late fees, people may find themselves unable to pay their next housing bill, which could lead to them being caught in a cycle of delayed payments.

    “Delayed payments in one month are a strong predictor for missed payments in the next,” Apartment List explained.

    Some of the most vulnerable populations include renters; about 36% of renters missed their July housing bill, compared to only 30% of homeowners. This is due to the fact that renters are more likely to work in sectors most impacted by the pandemic, CNBC reported.

    The survey also highlighted that many Americans are concerned about housing insecurity, with the share of renters who are either “very” or “extremely” worried about being evicted spiking from 18% in June to more than 21% in July. Similarly, the percentage of homeowners worried about foreclosures increased from 14% to 17% from June to July.

    “Looking forward to July, the majority of states have either paused or are reversing their scheduled reopenings. If local displacement bans are allowed to expire before local economies begin to recover, the missed payments we have been tracking over the past four months could lead to a wave of downgrade moves as renters and homeowners seek more affordable housing. Already we are witnessing unprecedented declines in rent prices as demand for expensive housing wanes,” the study concluded.

    The latest data by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the country added 4.8 million jobs in June, with the unemployment rate declining to 11.1%. Although notable job gains have been made, housing insecurity remains a pressing issue for many Americans.

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