Real Estate

Housing Insecurity Ticks Down In Most States, But Some Worse Off

Nationwide, the share of households behind on payments and worried about eviction or foreclosure has barely changed from a year ago.

Nearly a year after the government began tracking the share of people who were worried about eviction or foreclosure, sentiment nationwide has improved modestly, while residents in some areas of the country are more concerned than ever.

In early August, nearly 1 in 3 Americans was behind on rent or mortgage payments and at least somewhat worried about losing their home in the next two months, according to data collected from the government’s Household Pulse Survey.

This share of Americans who believed they were at risk was essentially unchanged from a year ago. It fell by only 0.6 percentage points since the first survey was conducted a year before, which was within the survey’s margin of error.

As national sentiment stayed roughly the same, some areas of the country saw their share of struggling renters and homeowners get worse. 

In Mississippi last August, approximately 35 percent of households were behind on payments and concerned their housing situation was at risk. Nearly a year later, that number ballooned to 56 percent — the highest increase in the nation.

New Hampshire underwent the second-worst change. The share of residents who were behind on rent and concerned about their housing situation rose from 17 percent to 42 percent in the last year.

The survey comes with a margin of error, which means the government’s national estimate could be off by as much as 3 percentage points in either direction. For any given state, however, the government’s result may be off by 15 points or more. This illustrates the challenge of getting accurate estimates for a single region on these two-week survey timelines.

Despite these limitations, it was clear that some states were actually better off than they were a year ago.

Sentiment among homeowners and renters improved in more than half of states over the last year, according to a recent analysis of the same survey data by

You can see how the sentiment changed in each state in the map below, which was compiled by staff.

States throughout the Great Plains saw their struggling renters and homeowners start to get back on track, either by becoming current on rent or reporting they were less concerned about eviction or foreclosure.

Wyoming led the nation in positive change. Nearly 3 in 7 of the state’s residents were at risk in August of last year, a number that has since dropped to 1 in 7.

Conditions also improved throughout much of the Midwest, and particularly in Illinois. The share of at-risk households in this state dropped from 42 percent to 23 percent.

This most recent snapshot of household sentiment was taken in the weeks following the expiration of a federal ban on evictions, and the announcement of new federal protections that faced an uncertain legal future. 

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attempted to issue a new moratorium in late June, the Supreme Court ruled in late August that the ban would have to end.

In a previous report, Zillow’s research team estimated that even though a large number of people were concerned about the possibility of eviction in particular, landlords were likely to file far fewer eviction cases.

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