CNK Documents Racial Inequalities Among Homeowners Due to Pandemic

A new report by the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge (CNK) at UCLA Luskin highlights how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected homeowners’ inability to pay mortgages, signaling an unprecedented housing crisis and revealing huge racial disparities among homeowners. Researchers from the center, led by Paul Ong, research professor and CNK director, partnered with the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate and Ong & Associates to produce research as part of a series of COVID-19 policy briefs documenting the systemic racial inequalities of the pandemic. The new report, “Systemic Racial Inequality and the COVID-19 Homeowner Crisis,” analyzes data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s weekly Household Pulse Survey, collected between April and July 2020, to examine the magnitude, pattern and causes of the housing crisis. The authors report that about 5 million, or 8%, of American homeowners were unable to pay their mortgage on time. In comparison, during the Great Recession, there were approximately 3.8 million foreclosures; early-stage delinquent mortgages (for 30 to 59 days) peaked at 3%. “Compared with non-Hispanic whites, Black people and Hispanics (or Latinx) had two to three times higher odds of experiencing housing hardships,” the researchers noted. “This systematic inequality is produced by pre-existing income and educational inequalities, and reinforced by the disparate impacts of COVID-19 on the labor market,” according to the report. The rising number of homeowners currently struggling to pay their mortgages is an ominous indication that this may lead to more foreclosures, housing instability and homelessness, the researchers wrote.

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