Study: Lack of Affordable Housing Linked to Food Barriers

Different size model houses and green trees representing a city

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Households struggling with housing costs are more likely to need food assistance, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ new study, Housing Affordability and Food Sufficiency.

About 38% of 23.3 million homeowner households and 66% of 11.8 million renter households reported having difficulty paying for household expenses, including food as well as rent or a mortgage, NAR’s analysis found. They blame the high costs of housing: One in four households say they spent more than 50% of their income on housing in 2019, before the current pandemic. Financial experts usually consider households who spend more than 50% of their monthly income on housing to be severely burdened by housing costs.

Louisiana, South Carolina, and Georgia have the largest shares of households that are behind on rent or mortgage payments and without enough food to eat, according to NAR’s report.

“Housing affordability and food sufficiency are inseparable to families’ balance sheets,” said Jessica Lautz, NAR’s vice president of demographics and behavioral insights. “The pandemic has only highlighted many families’ struggle to secure stable housing and food security. This report shows how critical it is for NAR to continue its work to increase the access to stable and affordable housing in America.”

NAR has partnered with the Food Recovery Network to combat hunger. NAR and state and local associations have made a commitment, since 2019, to make their events Food Recovery Verified, which means groups will recover surplus food from various events and donate it to hunger-fighting nonprofits. Since June, NAR has donated 500 pounds of surplus food from three national events this year.

“As the financial impacts of the pandemic are still being felt by far too many families across the country, I’m grateful to be continuing our partnership with the Food Recovery Network to fight the unacceptably high levels of food insecurity in America,” Bob Goldberg, NAR’s CEO, said during the association’s Leadership Summit this week. “Last month alone, more than 8 million households reported not having enough food to eat. The need is great, but so are the philanthropic spirit and actions of REALTORS®.”

Regina Anderson, FRN’s executive director, says partnerships such as that between NAR and FRN can help combat hunger. “It’s important that people can see themselves as part of a simple solution to changing the current process of tossing perfectly good food to one of recovering good food and ensuring it can go to those experiencing hardship,” Anderson said.