The pandemic continues to wreak havoc among homeowners and renters 55 and over, threatening some with foreclosure or eviction, according to recent data from the US Census Bureau. Others said they had to cut back on basic necessities, such as food and medicine, to stay at home.
The The data
The Census Bureau’s bimonthly Household Pulse Survey shows how households are doing during the pandemic in near real time. For the most recent survey, which covers September 1 to September 13, the Census Bureau estimated that about 1.7 million homeowners aged 55 or older were behind on their mortgage payments. About 277,000 of those 55 or older considered foreclosure somewhat likely or very likely.
Of the 6.4 million homeowners of all ages in arrears, about 1.1 million, or 1 to 7%, were aged 55 to 64. Kim Blanton, author of the Squared Away blog at the Center for Retirement Research in Boston. College, notes that people in this age group have no Social Security benefits to fall back on. “If they lose their jobs, they don’t have a stable income,” says Blanton.
Older landlords aren’t the only ones coping with the loss of their home: another 188,700 adults aged 55 and over are late in paying their rent and face eviction. In August, the Supreme Court overturned the moratorium on evictions declared in September 2020 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A July report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) found that most households that are behind on their mortgage payments have three or more people living there. Data from the recent census reflected the same finding: 78% of households in arrears on their mortgages had three or more people in the household. “Therefore, any foreclosure from elderly homeowners living with 3 or more people will not only displace the older homeowner, but often multiple generations living in the same home,” the CFPB report states.
Many of those who say they are very likely to face foreclosure are people of color with household incomes of less than $ 25,000, according to census data. While the CFPB report did not link low income to the race for higher foreclosure rates, Blanton notes that many of those who lost their jobs during the pandemic tended to be people from low income color. The CFPB report notes that many elderly homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments also have problems paying for food and other expenses. About a fifth of those surveyed said that they sometimes or often did not have enough food to eat during the week; nearly half received help from nonprofits and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) with meals and groceries.