Discussion Paper

Sheltering in Place? A Closer Look at Pandemic Rental Instability in Six Southeastern States

Abstract: From a federal policy standpoint, the plan to stabilize renter households through the COVID-19 pandemic hinged on two actions: the implementation of a nationwide eviction moratorium and the disbursement of emergency rental assistance. This plan relied on four key expectations. First, a federal eviction moratorium was expected to prevent the displacement of renters during the pandemic. Second, it was anticipated that rental relief funds needed to quickly reach households in need to offset growing arrearages. Third, it was assumed that working members of renter households would resume their previous jobs after a relatively quick disruption. Finally, rent was expected to remain relatively stable over the course of the pandemic in order for households to resume covering payments. In this paper we explore a variety of data to assess how these expectations played out. We focus on six southeastern states as our study area, finding that across these states eviction moratoria appear to have been less effective while Emergency Rental Assistance disbursement experienced delays. We also look at the dynamic between local job and housing markets to discuss places within these states where deeper employment losses, slower recovery, and steeper rent increases produced a particularly difficult environment for lower-wage renters to stay in place during and after the pandemic.

Keywords: Affordable housing; Emergency Rental Assistance; eviction; rental instability; COVID-19; CARES Act; CDC moratorium; Unemployment Insurance; rent; rent increases; housing cost; employment loss; economic recovery; housing data; employment data; data limitations;

JEL Classification: H73; H76; H77; H83; I3; R1; R2; R3; R5;


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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Part of Series: FRB Atlanta Community and Economic Development Discussion Paper

Publication Date: 2023-10-17

Number: 2