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Burden of High Rents Surged during COVID

As the bad first two years of the pandemic recede in the rear-view mirror, a new report reminds us how tough things got for renters. In 2021, a record 21.6 million U.S. families were paying more than 30 percent of their income on rent, which is the real estate industry’s benchmark for people whose housing costs have become a financial burden. That amounts to just under half of all renter households who were struggling during COVID – very close to the high reached during the Great Recession. And the vast majority of the 1.2 million increase from 2020’s level was in the group that struggles the most: families who pay more than 50 percent of their income to rent a house or apartment. Two things were going on that have increased the burden on renters, according to a rent report by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. First, rents rose…

Originally Published on https://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/

Kim Blanton Squared Away Blog Writer

I’m a veteran financial and economics reporter, most recently for The Boston Globe, who has also written for The Economist and other publications. I uncovered scandals during the savings and loan crisis in Texas back in the late 1980s, trekked around the world to cover finance and economics in the 1990s, and ventured into Boston neighborhoods to cover the recent subprime mortgage crisis.

While covering subprime mortgages, I began to see the importance of financial behavior and literacy. Wall Street excesses certainly fueled the crisis, but a poor understanding of complex financial products also played a major role. I interviewed dozens of homeowners in the grip of foreclosure who had agreed to home loans that they did not understand and that their brokers did not or could not explain to them. The consequences for these individuals – and the country – were disastrous.

I use the same dogged reporting skills to cover financial issues of growing importance today, including the personal crisis that concerns millions of baby boomers: Retirement.

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