A report out today from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) substantiates the relationship between housing affordability and food security. Although this shouldn’t be news to anyone, in the wake of the pandemic, hints of a housing bubble, and with inflation on the rise, many more households are being forced to choose between housing or food.
According to the NAR, “the cost of housing have a critical impact on their ability to have enough food on the table.”
Using the U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey, NAR analyzed the number of households that found it difficult to pay their expenses. About 7% of all households, or 35.1 million, found it difficult to meet their expenses.
Breaking it down even farther, about 23.3 million homeowners were having difficulty. This is about 38% of all homeowners across the U.S.
Renters only comprised about 11.8 million households with difficulty, but this is about 66% of all renter households. As eviction moratoriums and forbearance periods are expiring, these figures should be worrisome.
The NAR also reports about 8.1 million households are without enough food. About 10% of Americans experience food insecurity.
Renters experience food insecurity at higher rates than homeowners.
Although there are many programs that give out free groceries and that supplement food budgets, renters still find it difficult to meet expenses.
Rents are increasing, faster than wages, which is one reason families are on “the edge of affordability.” For example, although Texas housing rates have risen just 6.7% over the past year, the family income has not. This puts pressure on the family to pay for a roof over their head or to buy food. Affordable housing is an issue that directly relates to food insecurity.
NAR reports that their members care about their community. Among the 67% of REALTORS® who volunteer, a little more than 1/3 of them gave to food banks. Another 20% gave to food delivery for elderly and housebound individuals. REALTORS® donated to frontline workers and for school meals for children.
Despite the help, more can be done. Look into food banks and volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood.