The Week Ahead: The Pandemic’s Impact on the Rental Market

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On Friday, October 29, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University will present the virtual session, “How Have Renters Responded to Financial Stress in the Pandemic?” from 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. CDT.

Hosted by Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University Research Assistant Sophia Wedeen, the presentation will focus on a forthcoming paper (co-authored with Center Research Associate Whitney Airgood-Obrycki, Center Managing Director Chris Herbert, and Center Senior Research Analyst Alexander Hermann) that uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey to see how the pandemic has impacted renters by race, ethnicity, income, and household composition.

Renters have been hit particularly hard by the economic impact of COVID. Millions have lost income, and many have responded to these losses by tapping into savings, borrowing from friends or family, and/or relying on stimulus payments or unemployment insurance to pay the rent and purchase other necessities.

The paper builds on an earlier working paper that reviewed existing research on these impacts and responses, and will assess whether particular spending strategies have been more likely to keep financially-strapped tenants from falling behind on their rent.

Hosting the presentation, Wedeen serves as a Research Assistant for the Center, working on projects related to residential remodeling activity and affordable rental housing. Prior to joining the Center, she worked as an analyst for the City of Boston, where she studied property tax policy and administered the Community Preservation Act exemption program. She has also worked at the Initiative on Cities, the Boston University Department of Political Science, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

As co-author of the paper, Airgood-Obrycki works on research for the Center related to affordable rental housing for low-income households, and served as project manager and lead author on America’s Rental Housing 2020. Her working papers have examined the housing needs of older adult renters, suburban neighborhood change, and affordable housing supply gaps for families. Her research has been published in Housing Policy Debate, Urban Studies, and Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space with a forthcoming article in the Journal of Urban Affairs.

Center Managing Director Herbert also co-authored the forthcoming paper on the pandemic’s impact on renters. Herbert has extensive experience conducting research related to housing policy and urban development, both in the U.S. and abroad. A key focus of his research has been on the financial and demographic dimensions of homeownership, and the implications for housing policy. Herbert was named Managing Director of the Center in 2015, and oversees the Center’s sponsored research programs, its local and national conferences, and symposia, as well as its student fellowship programs, designed to help train, and inspire the next generation of housing leaders.

Senior Research Analyst Hermann also contributed to the paper’s findings. With the Center, he works on projects related to the housing marketplace, demographics, and housing policy. Prior to joining the Center, he worked as a grant writer at a Detroit non-profit providing housing and treatment services to homeless populations.

Click here for more information or to register for this event.

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