Racial Disparities in Housing Struggles: 1 in 5 Black American Renters Are Behind on Rent

In this Guide...

New analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data reveals 20% of Black renters and over 15% of Hispanic renters are struggling to keep up with rent payments. Find out how minority renters in your state are being affected.

1
Key Findings

 

  • 13.4% of U.S. renters are at least one month behind on their rent. Over 5.5 million renters (9% of all renters) are "not at all confident" that they'll be able to pay next month's rent.

  • 19.9% of Black, 15.4% of Hispanic and 9.7% of White renters are past due on their rent.

  • More than 47% of Black renters in Wisconsin are behind on their rent.

  • Nearly one in five renters (over 4.2 million people) with children in the household are past due on their payments.

  • 27.3% of renters who experienced employment loss in the household in the last four weeks are behind on rent.

  • 53.2% of renters who applied for rental assistance through a state or federal government and were either denied assistance or are awaiting a response are behind on rent. 20.3% who have received assistance are still behind on rent.

  • Renters between the ages of 40 and 54 have the highest delinquency rate (19.6%).
2
Study Overview

Rent prices are rising, and certain demographics are feeling the squeeze more than others. Across the U.S., one out of every five Black renters – and roughly one out of every six Hispanic renters – are behind on their rent.

That comes at a time when rent prices increased 12% over the last year to reach an all-time high after remaining relatively flat the previous two years.1

Our analysis of racial disparities among renters who are delinquent on their payments comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent Household Pulse Survey (Week 42), which collected data between March 2 and March 14, 2022.

3
Percentage of Renters Behind on Rent in Each State

13.4% of all U.S. renters are at least one month behind on their rent payments. The table below shows the disparity of Black, Hispanic and White renters who are at least one month behind on their rent payments across every state.   

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Graphic table showing the rate of delinquent renters by state

Nationally, 19.9% of Black renters, 15.4% of Hispanic renters and 9.7% of White renters are at least one month behind on their rent.

More than 8.2 million households across the U.S. are behind on their rent, or 13.4% of all renters. That includes some 3 million White, 2.2 million Hispanic and 2 million Black renters.

35 states had higher delinquency rates among Black renters than Whites. In Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island and South Carolina, the delinquency rates are higher among White renters than Black renters. 

In 30 states, the rate of Hispanics past due on their rent payments is higher than Whites. Four states had insufficient data among Hispanic renters to make such comparisons.

In six states (Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and South Carolina), White renters have a higher delinquency rate than both Black and Hispanic renters.

Mississippi has the highest delinquency rate among White renters, at 23.3%. 

4
States With Highest Rates of Black Renters Struggling to Pay Rent

One out of five Black renters in the U.S. are behind on their rent payments. In Wisconsin, 47.4% of Black renters are behind on their payments, which is more than 3.5 times the national average.  

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Graphic table showing the states with highest rates of Black renter delinquency

Delaware's rate of rent delinquency among Black renters is second, at 36.3%, while Minnesota ranks third at 33.3%.

The greatest number of Black renters who are past due on their rent payments is in New York, where nearly a quarter million Black renters (and over 200,000 Hispanic renters) are delinquent.

According to the Rent.com February 2022 Annual Rent Report, New York has the fourth-highest average rent in the U.S. for both one-bedroom ($2,233) and two-bedroom ($2,578) apartments.2 

30 states have rates of Black renters behind on rent payments that are higher than the national average of 13.4%.

The lowest delinquency rate among Black renters is in Kansas, where just 1.4% of Black renters are behind on their payments.

5
States With Highest Rates of Hispanic Renters Struggling to Pay Rent

15.4% of Hispanic renters are behind on their rent payments nationwide. The rate is highest in Kentucky, where 52.5% of Hispanic renters are delinquent, and Louisiana, where 51% are past due.

22 states have delinquency rates among Hispanic renters that are higher than the national average. 

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Graphic table showing the states with highest rates of Hispanic renter delinquency

California is home to the highest number of Hispanic renters who are behind on their rent (645,742).

Only 1.1% of Hispanic renters in North Dakota report being past due on their payments. 

6
Rent Costs Not Always Correlated with Rent Delinquency

California is home to the highest average rent prices in the U.S. for both one-bedroom ($2,587) and two-bedroom ($3,135) apartments. However, California’s 14.1% delinquency rate among all renters is relatively close to the national average of 13.4%.

Massachusetts has the second-highest average cost of rent, yet the state delinquency rate (12.9%) is slightly lower than the national average.  

In Wyoming, however, where two-bedroom apartments average a nationwide low of just $777 per month, the 8.8% delinquency rate is noticeably lower than the national average. The 3.6% delinquency rate among White Wyoming renters and the 5.8% rate among Hispanic renters are roughly a third of the national average for each demographic. 

In Arkansas, where a one-bedroom apartment averages just $790 per month, 16.8% of renters are behind on their rent. 

7
Conclusion

Millions of Americans are struggling to keep up with their rent payments in 2022, and Black and Hispanic renters are disproportionately behind on their payments. 

Housing resources and rental support may become even more pressing issues if inflation and skyrocketing housing costs push more renters into financial difficulty.

8
Methodology

The data used for this report came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, specifically Week 43 (March 2 through March 14), released March 23.

1 Andrews, Jeff. (Feb. 23, 2022). Zumper National Rent Report. https://www.zumper.com/blog/rental-price-data.

2 Leckie, John. (Mar. 15, 2022). Rent Report March 2022. https://www.rent.com/research/average-rent-price-report.

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