People of Color Face the Most Pandemic Housing Insecurity

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The coronavirus pandemic has touched every corner of American life over the past 10 months, but far from equally. Households of people of color have had the hardest time staying current with their rent or mortgage payments during the pandemic, while white households have struggled the least, according to a recent analysis of census data by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS).

Among its many findings, the JCHS’s “The State of the Nation’s Housing 2020” report revealed that Black households were the most likely to be behind on rent payments, followed by Hispanic or Latino, Asian, multiracial and finally white households. Hispanic and Latino households were most likely to be behind on mortgage payments, followed by Black, Asian and multiracial households. White households were again most likely to be caught up.

To find this data, the JCHS report homed in on conclusions drawn from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, taken from Sept. 16 through Sept. 28, and those figures make up the basis of this week’s chart. (Results are similar in other phases of the pandemic survey.)

The 20-minute online survey began as a weekly exercise on April 23, 2020, as a means of quickly studying how the pandemic was impacting U.S. households. On Aug. 9, the Census Bureau moved it to a biweekly schedule. (The bureau notes that the survey, designed for quick turnaround, has a higher margin of error than others it conducts.)

Falling behind on housing payments was just one angle from which the JCHS examined the housing experience of people of color. Discriminatory practices, it noted, have long kept nonwhite buyers out of neighborhoods with better services and housing stocks, and Black and Hispanic or Latino renters were more likely to be cost burdened before the pandemic. The higher housing insecurity shown in this week’s chart is no surprise, but a stark reminder of ongoing inequities.

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