clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Millions of Americans can’t pay rent

The eviction crisis, explained.

Liz Scheltens is a senior editorial producer for the Vox video team.

Long before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, low-wage workers in the United States were already struggling to pay their rent, and were being evicted at rates much higher than in other similar countries. In the US, one in 40 renters has been evicted ー compared to one in 89 in the UK, one in 227 in Denmark, and one in 25,000 in France.

Since the pandemic took millions of US jobs in March and April, most workers who make more than $20 an hour have been able to keep working, or have returned to work. But low-wage workers — the people most likely to be renters instead of homeowners — are also the least likely to have gotten their jobs back. Now, seven months into the pandemic, millions aren’t working, and many of them are facing homelessness.

In this video we ask what other governments around the world have done to keep people in their homes, what the US has done, what it could do, and if the 2020 election could change any of it.

Further reading:

Debt, eviction and hunger: Millions fall back into crisis as stimulus and safety nets vanish (Washington Post)

Hundreds of evictions in Fayette County set to resume despite pandemic, mass confusion (Lexington Herald-Leader)

With 1 Million Illinois Residents Facing Eviction, Tenants Rights Group Calls For Rent, Mortgage Relief (Block Club Chicago)

The Economic Impacts of COVID-19: Evidence from a New Public Database Built from Private Sector Data by Raj Chetty, John Friedman, Nathaniel Hendren, Michael Stepner, and the Opportunity Insights Team

This video is the ninth in our series on the 2020 election. We aren’t covering the horse race; instead, we want to explain the stakes of the election through the issues that matter most to you.

You can find this video and all of Vox’s videos on YouTube. And if you’re interested in supporting our video journalism, you can become a member of the Vox Video Lab on YouTube.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.