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32% of U.S. households missed their July housing payments

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As the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues, almost one-third of U.S. households, 32%, have not made their full housing payments for July yet, according to a survey by Apartment List, an online rental platform.

About 19% of Americans made no housing payment at all during the first week of the month, and 13% paid only a portion of their rent or mortgage.

That's the fourth month in a row that a "historically high" number of households were unable to pay their housing bill on time and in full, up from 30% in June and 31% in May. Renters, low-income and younger households were most likely to miss their payments, Apartment List found. 

In April, May and June, the majority of missed housing payments were made by the end of month, Apartment List reports. Almost 90% of households had paid some or all of their rent or mortgage payment by the end of June. But with late fees tacked on, those households may be more likely to miss their next housing bill, perpetuating a vicious cycle.

"Delayed payments in one month are a strong predictor for missed payments in the next," Apartment List says. While 83% of households who paid their May housing in full and on-time also did so in June, only 30% of households who were late in May did so in June.

Worries about evictions mount

States started to reopen their economies last month, but spikes in coronavirus cases led many to re-close sectors or pause reopening plans altogether.

"The economic fallout from the pandemic does not appear on track for the quick V-shaped recovery that many had originally hoped for," reports Apartment List. Plus, the continued coronavirus recession has more Americans worried about evictions and foreclosures, Apartment List found. 

Renters are especially vulnerable. About 36% of renters, who are more likely to work in industries devastated by the coronavirus, missed their July housing bill, compared to 30% of homeowners.

The federal eviction moratorium, which covers around one-fourth of renters in the U.S., put in place at the beginning of the pandemic has been extended to the end of August. But many people are still worried about an imminent wave of evictions across the country, as tenant protections vary greatly depending on the state and even city. Many — though not all — states and cities have instituted their own eviction bans; some have already expired, leaving tenants vulnerable at a time when coronavirus cases are increasing in many spots in the U.S. 

Many households have already spent their one-time stimulus check, and the extra $600 per week in unemployment insurance — used by many to cover essentials like housing — runs out at the end of July. That means even more households could potentially miss their rent or mortgage payments in coming months.

Housing advocates are calling for a uniform, nationwide eviction moratorium that covers all renters, as well as other federal aid in the form of emergency rental relief. The House or Representatives has passed several measures, including the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions, or HEROES, Act and the Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act of 2020, to address the housing crisis. Neither bill is expected to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.

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