Each week, the U.S. Census Bureau releases data from its Household Pulse Survey, which was designed to provide current data on how Americans are faring during COVID-19. The survey asks questions about jobs, finances, access to food, health, school, and housing. This survey provides the best information available on current conditions of homeowners and renters in Virginia.
While Virginia renters appear to be doing better than renters nationally, a growing share of Virginia renters say they are having trouble paying rent. In mid-June, about 6% of Virginia renters said that they did not pay rent in their prior month. Over the past month, that share has risen steadily. During the week of July 16-21, 2020, an estimated 16% of renters said they did not pay rent in the prior month.
With federal expanded unemployment benefits ending the last week of July, there have been growing concerns about renters not being able to pay rent. During the week of July 16-21, 28% of Virginia renters said that they have “no” or “slight” confidence in their ability to pay next month’s rent. In a recent Virginia REALTORS® survey, more than half of property managers and landlords said that they have had renters not able to pay rent as a result of job or income loss. This share may increase in August if Congress does not act to continue federal support for unemployed renters.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not impacted homeowners as much as renters. Each week over the past 11 weeks, an average of 8% of Virginia homeowners said that they did not pay mortgage in the prior month. This is about the same share as in the U.S. overall. Although there has been some variation in the rate in Virginia, the rate does not appear to have increased over time.
During the week of July 16-21, 2020, about 12% of Virginia homeowners said that they have “no” or “slight” confidence in their ability to pay their mortgage next month. Virginia homeowners are less likely than U.S. homeowners overall to say they will be challenged to pay next month’s mortgage.
While COVID-19 has had an impact on the financial circumstances of renters and homeowners, Virginians have fared somewhat better than residents in some other parts of the country, at least to date. However, as the economic recovery begins to slow, more households may have challenges in meeting rent and mortgage payments in the weeks to come.