Coronavirus unevenly threatens housing for people of color: Report

Register now

Mass layoffs and furloughs due to COVID-19 disproportionately affected Asian, black and Latino workers, and, in turn, will impact their housing security the most.

Over 23 million people filed for unemployment claims from March 22 to April 18, according to the Department of Labor. The pandemic hit the service industries of food, arts and retail especially hard, a sector consisting of a largely minority workforce.

By and large, racial and ethnic minorities already face hardships when it comes to owning a home.

Households of color are also more likely to be rent burdened. White households spend 25.1% of their income on rent, while black households spend 28.3%, Latino 30% and Asian 30.6%, based on a Zillow report published this week. Low-income households that spend more than 30% of their income on rent expenses are considered to have housing insecurity.

The Zillow report calculates that, if workers in the service sector lose income for two months, the proportion of income spent on rent would rise to 29.4% for white households, 33.2% in black households, 34.8% for Latino and 35.7% in Asian households. If the losses go to four months, all three minority groups would be above 40%, with white households reaching 35.3%.

"This analysis highlights the financial tightrope many households walk in our vital service industries," Skylar Olsen, senior principal economist at Zillow, said in a press release.

"While it's encouraging that many who receive government assistance appear to be on solid footing for a few months, it's important to remember that some workers will see labor disruptions, such as a loss of hours, that don't qualify them for these unemployment benefits that are so crucial right now. And if the pandemic were to last beyond the summer, it could have lasting impacts that push many more into housing insecurity."

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.
Coronavirus Zillow Housing market