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Financial conditions for renters before and during the COVID-19 pandemic

This report examines how financial conditions faced by renters evolved, relative to those faced by homeowners, over the course of the pandemic using two waves of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Making Ends Meet survey and its association with consumer credit data. The Bureau compares renters to homeowners on a variety of financial outcomes from before the pandemic, during its early stages in spring 2020, and through spring 2021. We also examine outcomes for several subgroups of renters who were more likely to be recipients of certain pandemic supports, such as renters with student loans, renters with children, and low-income renters.

Our findings indicate that renters’ finances have been highly sensitive to policy during the pandemic, likely a combined product of renters’ existing financial vulnerabilities and how pandemic policies were designed. Before the pandemic, renters were more likely to be financially vulnerable, partly because they were younger on average and had lower incomes. These factors made them both more likely to receive a larger stimulus payment and more likely to receive student loan forbearance. During the pandemic, renters were also more likely to face a period of unemployment, and so more were likely to be recipients of extended unemployment benefits. The fiscal supports we focus on have either ended or are scheduled to end in the coming months. Our results suggest that renters’ finances are likely vulnerable to the cessation of these supports.

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