15 States With the Most People Behind on Rent

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Stessa.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, growing rent debt and the possibility of widespread evictions have been a major worry. Renters are more likely to work in the sorts of occupations that have been most disrupted by the pandemic, like retail and hospitality, and less likely to have savings or other assets to help them weather hard times.

These factors have made it harder for renters to keep up with their payments, and, in turn, many landlords — especially smaller-scale property owners — are struggling to make up income and cover payments to lenders.

The picture for renters has improved somewhat over the course of the pandemic, but many renters are still struggling, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. The percentage of renters who reported being behind on their payments increased substantially in the first few months of the pandemic, as early COVID-19 lockdowns temporarily shuttered many businesses and eliminated millions of jobs. In 2021, a decline in cases early in the year, the availability of vaccines, and overall improvement in the economy kept the share of renters behind on rent below 16% for much of the year.

To determine the states with the most people behind on rent, researchers at Stessa calculated the percentage of renters who reported being behind on their payments during the second half of 2021. In the event of a tie, the location with the higher percentage of renters with kids behind on their payment was ranked higher. All statistics reported are weekly averages from July 2021 to December 2021. The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Here are the states with the highest percentage of people behind on their rent.

15. Florida

Pensacola Florida
Matt Buikema / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters behind on their payments: 17.0%
  • Percentage of renters with kids behind on their payments: 22.7%
  • Total renters behind on their payments: 599,946
  • Median household income: $61,736
  • Poverty rate: 12.3%

14. Texas

Corpus Christi Texas
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters behind on their payments: 17.0%
  • Percentage of renters with kids behind on their payments: 23.0%
  • Total renters behind on their payments: 806,509
  • Median household income: $66,031
  • Poverty rate: 13.5%

13. Maryland

Port of Baltimore, Maryland tugboat
Cascade Creatives / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters behind on their payments: 17.2%
  • Percentage of renters with kids behind on their payments: 22.1%
  • Total renters behind on their payments: 157,018
  • Median household income: $88,742
  • Poverty rate: 8.8%

12. New Jersey

Jersey City, New Jersey
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters behind on their payments: 17.2%
  • Percentage of renters with kids behind on their payments: 22.6%
  • Total renters behind on their payments: 226,056
  • Median household income: $87,016
  • Poverty rate: 9.5%

11. Connecticut

Hartford, Connecticut
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters behind on their payments: 17.2%
  • Percentage of renters with kids behind on their payments: 22.9%
  • Total renters behind on their payments: 85,355
  • Median household income: $79,719
  • Poverty rate: 9.8%

10. Kentucky

Louisville Kentucky
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters behind on their payments: 17.5%
  • Percentage of renters with kids behind on their payments: 22.7%
  • Total renters behind on their payments: 104,645
  • Median household income: $54,191
  • Poverty rate: 14.8%

9. Oklahoma

Oklahoma City
Henryk Sadura / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters behind on their payments: 17.7%
  • Percentage of renters with kids behind on their payments: 22.9%
  • Total renters behind on their payments: 104,246
  • Median household income: $54,536
  • Poverty rate: 14.4%

8. New Mexico

New Mexico
turtix / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters behind on their payments: 17.8%
  • Percentage of renters with kids behind on their payments: 25.4%
  • Total renters behind on their payments: 56,700
  • Median household income: $52,059
  • Poverty rate: 17.8%

7. Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters behind on their payments: 17.9%
  • Percentage of renters with kids behind on their payments: 23.6%
  • Total renters behind on their payments: 34,061
  • Median household income: $75,682
  • Poverty rate: 9.7%

6. Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters behind on their payments: 18.9%
  • Percentage of renters with kids behind on their payments: 27.7%
  • Total renters behind on their payments: 117,614
  • Median household income: $53,956
  • Poverty rate: 14.7%

5. Georgia

Kennesaw, Georgia
Demetrius C / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters behind on their payments: 21.2%
  • Percentage of renters with kids behind on their payments: 30.3%
  • Total renters behind on their payments: 349,304
  • Median household income: $62,844
  • Poverty rate: 13.9%

4. Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi
Rex Wholster / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters behind on their payments: 21.9%
  • Percentage of renters with kids behind on their payments: 26.3%
  • Total renters behind on their payments: 79,100
  • Median household income: $47,247
  • Poverty rate: 18.8%

3. New York

Syracuse New York
Paul Brady Photography / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters behind on their payments: 22.0%
  • Percentage of renters with kids behind on their payments: 28.1%
  • Total renters behind on their payments: 877,503
  • Median household income: $73,398
  • Poverty rate: 12.7%

2. South Carolina

Spartanburg, South Carolina
Kevin Ruck / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters behind on their payments: 22.0%
  • Percentage of renters with kids behind on their payments: 29.8%
  • Total renters behind on their payments: 132,982
  • Median household income: $56,973
  • Poverty rate: 14.0%

1. Louisiana

New Orleans Louisiana
Tim Roberts Photography / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters behind on their payments: 22.1%
  • Percentage of renters with kids behind on their payments: 31.3%
  • Total renters behind on their payments: 138,185
  • Median household income: $51,730
  • Poverty rate: 17.8%

Methodology

Man analyzing data on a laptop
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey and the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. To determine the states with the highest percent of people behind on their rent, researchers calculated the percentage of renters who reported being behind on their payments during the second half of 2021.

In the event of a tie, the location with the higher percentage of renters with kids behind on their payment was ranked higher. All statistics shown are weekly averages from July 2021 to December 2021. As such, these statistics represent the percentage of people behind on rent at any given time, not the cumulative number of people who fell behind on their payments over the entire survey period.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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