Racial Inequalities in Housing Exacerbated by COVID-19 Pandemic: Journal of Urban Affairs Article

Date Published: 
July 27th, 2023

A new article published in the Journal of Urban Affairs investigates how Black, Hispanic, and Asian households disproportionately fell behind on housing payments during the COVID-19 pandemic. The higher likelihood of having late payments was partially a byproduct of pre-pandemic inequalities, but the systemic shock of the pandemic aggravated existing racial and ethnic disparities.

The authors found that Black (23%), Hispanic (18%), and Asian (15%) households were far more likely than white households (8%) to fall behind on housing payments between August and December 2020. Higher rates of housing insecurity for households of color were partially a byproduct of racial disparities that preceded the pandemic; 66% of white households in the sample owned their homes, compared to 46% of Hispanic and 39% of Black households.

More than half of Black and Hispanic households lost employment income at some point between March and December 2020 compared to about 40% of white households. The authors used regression models to control for other pre-pandemic vulnerabilities that influence the likelihood of falling behind on payments. Their findings suggest that a Black household with lost employment income and otherwise average characteristics would have a 28% chance of falling behind on their payments, compared to a 12-percentage point increase in housing insecurity for Hispanic, 8-percentage point increase for white, and 5-percentage point increase for Asian households with lost employment income.


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