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How $1 of Rent Translates to Billions Going Back into Local Communities

Key Takeaways:

  • 90 cents of each dollar paid on rent go towards taxes, wages, maintenance and improvements, and mortgage payments, while only 10 cents belong to owners and investors. 
  • An amassed rent debt of $60 billion since the start of the pandemic may trigger a butterfly effect across local communities.
  • Since many housing providers operate on thin margins, the recently approved stimulus package will help fill the gap in cashflow and keep afloat an industry that provides housing for 40 million Americans. 

The American Rescue Plan signed by President Biden on March 11 brings much-anticipated relief to millions of American families, both renters and housing providers. Meant to help those struggling financially because of the pandemicthe bill comes with $21.55 billion in emergency rental assistance, in addition to $25 billion in aid received in December, bringing the total to about $46 billion. The funds are expected to help offset a total rent debt close to $60 billion, triggering a butterfly effect across local communities, particularly visible when you look at where one dollar of rent goes. 

A recently launched Yardi-sponsored initiative called COVID-19 Rental Housing Initiative breaks down a $1 worth of rent to show that up to 90% of it has direct impact on the local economy. The initiative is new resource for renters and housing operators backed by four major apartment associations (IREM, NAA, NMHC, NARPM). It includes valuable resources for renters addressing aspects like mental health, isolation, resiliency, anxiety and financial stress, as well as assisting property owners and operators with up-to-date information about guidelines and ongoing legislation, including tips for handling business continuity, maintenance and reopening. 

Who benefits from rental assistance and support 

There couldn’t have been a better moment for a relief packageas a cascade of debt looms over the housing market. Although well-intended, the extended eviction moratoriums expiring at the end of March did nothing to address renters underlying financial distress or the risk of housing insecurity. Renters deeply shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic are incurring levels of debt that they may never be able to repay.  

According to the Urban Institute and Moody’s Analytics estimations, the average resident who’s behind on rent already owes $6,000With approximately 10.25 million renters in debt as of January 2021, the back rent reached an estimated $57.3 billionSmall business owners are also at risk, as most housing providers arent able to cover a shortfall of this magnitudeMom-and-pop landlords manage 77% of the 2-4-unit properties in the U.S. The emergency rental assistance will keep people safe in their homes, businesses afloat and sustain communities.  


Rent checks go back into the local economy  

The largest part of every dollar of rent is used to keep rental housing operational, as 90 cents of it go towards state and local taxes, which support essential services in the community, employee wages, maintenance and improvements, and mortgage paymentsJust 10 cents go to property owners and investors. 

This means that each dollar paid as rent, besides keeping renters safely housed, is also contribution to the local economy. Rent checks are reinvested in the community in the form of taxes, worker salaries and maintenance for buildings. By far, mortgage payments take up the largest chunk of rent38 centsThe majority of small owners depend on this money, according to data from the COVID-19 Rental Housing Initiative, as 59% of them carry a mortgage, and many of them operate on thin marginsRents in properties owned by mom-and-pop landlords are typically lower than in larger, amenity-rich communities. So, by helping families pay the rent, the federal assistance fund would in fact support these owners, who otherwise might default on loansIf this were to happenthe supply of affordable housing would be at risk 

Going back to the estimated $60 billion in rent debt, lets redo the math using a hypothetical calculation based on the breakdown of 1 dollar of rent, to better visualize the actual implications of the new stimulus package: 

The emergency rental assistance package will help housing providers cover at least a part of the $23 billion accrued mortgage payments but, most importantly, it will send $14 billion to local communities in the form of property taxes and wages. Not to mention $17 billion needed for building maintenance and capital improvements which would support small businesses in other sectors of the economy as well.  

Considering the potential impact of the current rent debt on the economy, rental industry associations believe that more needs to be done to avoid turning the public health crisis into a housing crisis, especially now, with so much uncertainty around the economic recoveryA robust rental assistance program will keep people safely housed and ensure that apartment communities remain operational long into the future. Renters and landlords alike depend on the health of the rental housing sector. This is why Yardi committed $1 million to the COVID-19 Rental Housing Support initiative, a newly launched platform backed by four major associations serving the rental housing industry: IREM, NAA, NMHC and NARPM. 

You can check out the support initiative here. 

Florentina Sarac
Florentina Sarac
Florentina Sarac is a creative writer, editor, and researcher for RENTCafé. She covers a variety of topics, from real estate trends, demographic shifts, housing industry news and multifamily construction to homeownership, smart-home technology, personal finance and business. With a 9-year background in the real estate industry, Florentina has also penned articles for publications such as Multi-Housing News, Commercial Property Executive and the National Apartment Association Magazine. You can connect with Florentina via email. Florentina’s work and expertise have been featured in several major U.S. and international publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bisnow, The Mercury News, Curbed, The NY Post, CBS News, Business Insider and She holds a B.A. in English and Spanish, as well as an M.A. in Multilingual and Multicultural Communication, which serve as a testament to her love of literature and language.

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