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One in Four Americans Can’t Pay Their April Rent: Study

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April 8, 2020 By Christian Murray

Nearly one-quarter of Americans are unable pay their April housing bill, according to a new study released by the real estate firm Apartment List.

The study, based on a survey of more than 4,100 people nationwide, revealed that 25 percent of renters say that they are unable to pay their full April rent. The survey found that 13 percent of renters are only able to pay part of April’s rent while 12 percent are unable to make a payment at all.

In a typical month about 4 percent of renters are unable to pay the full bill, according to the survey.

The percentage of homeowners with a mortgage who are struggling to make payments is similar, according to the study.

The survey found that 23 percent are unable to make a full payment to their lender—with 11 percent of homeowners only able to make partial payment and 12 percent unable to make a payment at all.

Younger Americans—respondents under 30—are struggling the most, with the survey finding that 30 percent of this group are unable to meet their April housing costs.

The survey, conducted between April 3 and April 5, reflects the recent unwinding of the economy as the nation deals with the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past two weeks more than 10 million workers have filed for unemployment and April 1 was the first time since the national crisis began that the rent and mortgage payments became due.

The survey found that among those who missed their full payments—45 percent of renters and 44 percent of respondents with mortgages–were able to work with their landlord or bank to reduce or defer payments.

In New York, steps have been taken to reduce the burden, with Governor Andrew Cuomo issuing an executive order halting evictions and foreclosures for 90 days. He also ordered mortgage payments to be suspended for 90 days for borrowers who face financial hardship such as losing their job.

“This is a real-life benefit,” Cuomo said last month in announcing the suspension of mortgage payments. “People are under tremendous economic pressure. Making a mortgage payment can be one of the number one stressors. Eliminating that stressor for 90 days, I think, will go a long way.”

But some New York legislators are calling for rent forgiveness arguing that tenants won’t have 3 months rent saved by the time the eviction notices are sent.

State Sen. Mike Gianaris introduced legislation late last month that would suspend and forgive rent payments for residential and small business tenants for 90 days, as well as provide some relief for small property owners.

“New Yorkers live paycheck to paycheck and do not have three months of back rent saved,” Gianaris said.

Cuomo has been reluctant to support Gianaris’ bill.

The survey painted a bleak picture for Americans should the economic shut down continue.

It asked survey respondents how they would fare if they were to lose their income indefinitely.

Among the renters, 79 percent said they could pay the rent next month, with 55 percent saying they could pay after two months. However, the number drops to 28 percent if they were not to have income for three months.

The numbers were not quite so alarming for people with mortgages—until the three-month mark is reached. At that point, only 46 percent of homeowners said they would be able to pay their mortgage.

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