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Number of Americans unable to pay full housing payment hit all-time high in July

Megan Henney

The number of Americans unable to make their full on-time housing payment hit a new high in July, as a resurgence in coronavirus cases threatened to derail the economy's nascent recovery.

Roughly one-third of households -- 32 percent -- have not made their complete housing payment in July, according to a survey published Wednesday by Apartment List, an online rental platform. That's up from 30 percent in June and 31 percent in May.

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About 19 percent of Americans made no housing payment at all during the first week of July, while 13 percent paid only a portion of their rent or mortgage.

It marked the fourth consecutive month that a "historically high" percentage of renters and homeowners were unable to pay their entire housing bill, according to the study. Renters, young and low-income households and residents in dense urban areas were the most likely to miss their payments.

Still, a majority of households that miss the payment in the first week of the month tend to make up with late payments. Eighty-nine percent of respondents had paid their June bill in full as of the first week of July -- which is consistent with the end-of-month payment rate for prior months.

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The report comes amid a rapid rise of COVID-19 cases; a spike in infections in California, Texas and Florida drove the U.S. to a new single-day record of infections, with 60,000 new cases reported. There are 3 million confirmed cases in the U.S., the most in the world.

"The number of new coronavirus cases has surged, and reopening plans have been paused or rolled back throughout the country, making clear that effects of the pandemic are far from behind us," the report said. "This continued economic hardship is having serious implications for housing security."

The federal eviction moratorium, which covers individuals in properties backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, has been extended until Aug. 31. In 2019, roughly 43 percent of new mortgages were federally backed.

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The CARES Act froze evictions of tenants in federally backed properties for 120 days -- or until July 25, 2020. Starting then, landlords can issue a notice to evict. However, they cannot remove individuals living in those properties for at least another 30 days.

For tenants living in privately backed properties, the eviction bans vary by state. You can check the status here.

Rent and mortgage payments are typically the largest monthly expense for Americans: One in four tenant families pays more than half of its income for rent, a rate that’s even higher in cities like San Francisco and New York, according to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

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Homeowners with federally backed properties were granted a 60-day foreclosure moratorium through May 17, 2020. However, that was extended until "at least" Aug. 31, 2020.

There are roughly 4.2 million Americans in forbearance plans, according to a recent survey published by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

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