Analysis for Influence
The estimates presented in the initial Rent Debt Dashboard included data gathered and analyzed before August 30, 2021. View methodology here. As the campaign evolved, the methodology was updated to include a larger number of geographic areas, being inclusive of the massive rent debt crisis, primarily driven by the pandemic’s economic fallout. Low-wage workers, who are disproportionately workers of color, were hardest hit by Covid-related job losses and are most vulnerable to suffering from rent debt. The pandemic exacerbated pre-existing housing insecurity for renters of color — especially women of color — who were already most likely to be rent-burdened and at risk of eviction.
With the update, the Rent Debt Dashboard now includes estimates of the number of renter households in all states and counties, 558 cities and census-designated places (those with at least 10,000 renter households), and 15 metropolitan regions. And as the federal relief programs started to provide support, the dashboard also described methods used for incorporating Emergency Rental Assistance data from the US Treasury into the “Relief Map.” View the full methodology.
The question of how many months the household is behind on rent was added in the Phase 3.2 Pulse Survey, beginning July 21, 2021. Prior to this question being added, national estimates of the distribution of rent arrears were derived from the University of Southern California’s Center for Economic and Social Research’s “Understanding Coronavirus in America” panel survey. The Pulse survey data was preferable for many reasons:
- It provides a much larger sample size
- It allows for cross-tabulations with the other Pulse survey questions
- It will be regularly updated at the same interval as our other data inputs
This shift to using the Pulse data on the distribution of arrears has had a significant impact on rent debt estimates, due to the higher share of households that are less than three months behind in the Pulse survey (as compared with the USC survey).
Rent debt estimates are now based on two sources of data:
- Household rent and income data from the 5-year 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) summary file and microdata
- Data on households behind on rent and the number of months behind on rent from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey microdata for the United States, all 50 states, including the 15 largest metros