As states lift renter protections, rent gaps remain

As eviction moratoriums begin to expire, there is a large gap in rent assistance needs between states with stronger and weaker protections for renters. Building on an earlier Focus-19 report, we compared requests to 2-1-1s for rent assistance in states with higher and lower scores on protections for renters. Our analysis is based on an updated scorecard from the Eviction Lab. We classified states with >2.5 stars on the Eviction Lab’s 5-star scale as having stronger protections for renters and states with ≤2.5 stars as having weaker protections. Compared to the original report, our new analysis also included more states (32 vs. 24) and six more weeks of rent assistance requests to 2-1-1s (through June 12 vs. April 29, 2020). Although more states are now classified with weaker protections, the difference between the groups has remained large. From pre-COVID through June 12, the average number of rent assistance requests per day in states with weaker protections nearly doubled (+85%). In states with stronger protections, the increase has been smaller (+61%). Pre-COVID dates were January 1 – March 11 and post-COVID dates were March 12 – June 12. States with stronger protections for renters were CT, DE, IL, KY, MA, MI, MN, NC, NV, NY, PA and WA. States with weaker protections for renters were AL, AR, CA, FL, HI, IA, IN, KS, MD, ME, MO, NE, NJ, OH, SC, SD, TN, VA, WI and WY. The eight new states included in the analysis – AR, CA, IL, IN, KS, OH, SD, TN – have partial coverage by 2-1-1 helplines participating in a daily tracking system.

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