Nearly 40,000 Upstate Renter Households At Risk of Housing Instability from Pandemic Job Losses
October 16th 2020
New York, NY — New research from the NYU Furman Center suggests that renters in Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Yonkers are at risk of housing instability after losing income as a result of COVID-19. Using data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the analysis estimates how much rent households in these five critical regional anchors owe, and how many households have been affected by the economic repercussions of the global pandemic. The analysis also estimates a need for $20 million per month in rental assistance to bring households in these cities to their pre-COVID rent burdens. Read the full analysis, including a breakdown of job losses and rental assistance needs by city.
According to the research, the Furman Center estimates that 37,500 renter households across the five cities lost their job due to the economic crisis, likely leading to increased rates of non-payment on the $40 million in monthly rent this population owes. Rent was a problem for many New York state residents even before the pandemic. In each city, nearly one in three renter households were paying more than 50 percent of their income towards rent when the pandemic hit.
“While many households were rent-burdened before COVID-19, the pandemic has exacerbated the financial straits of so many renters,” said Matthew Murphy, Executive Director of the NYU Furman Center. “Research to date has focused on national numbers or major metropolitan areas, but this analysis shows that small and mid-sized cities also face major challenges in helping renters.”
Low income households are most vulnerable to falling behind on rent and many do not qualify for unemployment. According to the research, an estimated 3,000 low-income renter households across the five cities have lost a total of $9 million in monthly wages, but do not receive any unemployment insurance benefits.
The research shows that rent shortfalls will acutely affect smaller properties, as a large share of renter households in these cities reside in buildings with four or fewer units. Smaller properties are often owned by smaller-scale landlords who are less able to weather long periods of non-payment. There is an added layer of racial implications as well. Owners of smaller buildings are more likely to be people of color than owners of larger buildings, raising concerns that the current crisis will exacerbate existing racial and ethnic disparities in property ownership and wealth.