California’s Renters Still Struggling to Make Rent Despite State’s Eviction Moratorium and Emergency Rental Assistance

Fellow staff bio Jessica Martin
Jessica Martin, California Housing Partnership

The California Housing Partnership has been closely tracking the economic consequences of COVID-19 on California’s renter households since the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey was first released in May 2020. Our research finds that nearly a year and half into the pandemic, renters across California are still bearing the economic brunt of COVID-19, experiencing high rates of wage loss and housing insecurity, and struggling to make rent, despite the availability of emergency rental assistance. With the expiration of the eviction moratorium at the end of September and the looming prospect of the end of rental assistance, millions of California renters are still at risk of falling into deeper economic hardship.

Key data findings from the Partnership’s most recent analysis:

1) California renters of color were disproportionately burdened by back rent: on average 19% of Black renters, 17% of Latinx renters, and 17% of Asian renters reported an inability to stay current on rent during the prior 12 months, compared to 8% of white renters.

2) More than one in three renter households felt no or only slight confidence that they would be able to pay their rent the next month, in peak months. This fell to lower levels between July and November of 2020 and between February and June of 2021 but increased back to 29% of renters in late July.

  • Latinx and Black renters were most likely to be uncertain of their ability to pay rent next month. The share of Latinx renters who reported uncertainty was above average in every month of data thus far.

3) More than a quarter of California renters in arrears – and as many as half during some months of the pandemic – felt it was very likely or somewhat likely they would be evicted in the next two months.

  • Fear of eviction was prominent among most race and ethnic groups: 44% of Latinx renters, 43% of white renters, 40% of Black renters, and 21% of Asian renters in arrears reported that it was very or somewhat likely they would be evicted in the next two months.


Click here for full data findings through August 2021 on COVID-19 housing fragility. The Partnership’s Research Team will continue to track this data and the pandemic’s impact on California’s renters over the coming months. Check out the COVID-19 Response page on the Partnership’s website for our most current resources and research.