High Housing Expenses Linked to Food Insecurity in New Report

The dire consequences of financial strain caused by rising housing costs extend to even the most basic needs—namely food—as a new report from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) shows a direct connection between home expenses and food insecurity.

The analysis looked at a two-week period early this summer from June 23 to July 5, and found that 38% of homeowners and a shocking 66% of renters struggled to pay for normal household expenses, which included both obligations like car loans and utility bills but also extended to groceries.

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“Housing affordability and food sufficiency are inseparable to families’ balance sheets,” said Jessica Lautz, NAR VP of Demographics and Behavioral Insights, in a statement. “The pandemic has only highlighted many families’ struggle to secure stable housing and food security.”

The takeaway:

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many families’ financial issues, acute struggles to balance housing costs with other basic necessities certainly preceded the pandemic. In 2019, one-fourth of households that spent more than 50% of their income on direct housing costs received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. That number increased to one-third when including only renters.

Outside of government benefits, many families have sought other resources that can help them access food necessities. During the two-week period this year analyzed by NAR, six million households also took advantage of more informal food aid—groceries provided by food banks or other charitable organizations.

As far as geography, the states with the largest share of households that are both behind on mortgage or rental payments and are simultaneously unable to put food on the table are Louisiana, South Carolina and Georgia. Those three states also top the list of people struggling with housing costs who also receive free food donations, joined by New York and New Jersey.

“This report shows how critical it is for NAR to continue its work to increase the access to stable and affordable housing in America,” said Lautz.

Read the full report here.

Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to jwilliams@rismedia.com.

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