38% of homeowner households and 66% of renter households have difficulty paying for usual household expenses, including food, according to NAR’s study. “Housing affordability and food sufficiency are inseparable to families’ balance sheets,” says NAR VP Jessica Lautz.
WASHINGTON – Households burdened by housing costs are more likely to need food assistance, according to a new analysis by the National Association of Realtors®’ (NAR) Housing Affordability and Food Sufficiency report.
From June 23 to July 5, 2021, 38% of homeowner households (23.3 million) and 66% of renter households (17.8 million) reported difficulty paying for usual household expenses, including food, rent or mortgage, auto and student loans, medical expenses and utilities. Nearly six million households received free food offered by food pantries, churches or other charitable organizations.
“Housing affordability and food sufficiency are inseparable to families’ balance sheets,” says Jessica Lautz, NAR vice president of demographics and behavioral insights. “This report shows how critical it is for NAR to continue its work to increase the access to stable and affordable housing in America.”
Of those households that spent more than 50% of their income on housing in 2019 – including one in three renters – 25% received food stamps from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
The percentage of gross monthly income spent on housing costs – a combination of mortgage or rent payments, utilities, insurance and property taxes – is considered an indicator of housing affordability. In general, households that spend more than 50% of their monthly income on housing are considered severely burdened by housing costs.
What are Realtors doing?
NAR is working with the federal, state and local governments to speed up distribution of nearly $50 billion in rental assistance. These funds can cover up to a year-and-a-half of back and future rent and utilities for struggling tenants, which will then provide relief to small housing providers. Nearly half of all rental housing in America is a mom-and-pop operation.
NAR has also partnered with the Food Recovery Network (FRN) since 2019 to fight hunger and food insecurity. FRN provides guidance and resources that ensure a number of NAR, state and local Realtor associations are Food Recovery Verified. That designation allows the groups to recover surplus food from various events and donate it to hunger-fighting non-profits. NAR and FRN extended the partnership this year as the association again began hosting in-person events. Since June, NAR has donated 500 pounds of surplus food from three national events.
NAR CEO Bob Goldberg and FRN’s Executive Director Regina Anderson spoke about the collaboration during the association’s Leadership Summit, an annual gathering of state and local Realtor® association presidents-elect and association executives.
“Last month alone, more than eight million households reported not having enough food to eat,” Goldberg said. “The need is great, but so are the philanthropic spirit and actions of Realtors.”
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