Study: Retail, hospitality workers’ rent burdens rising in virus emergency

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Valley News Graphic/CDC Courtesy Photo

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Renters in the Riverside metropolitan area in the retail and food hospitality industries face coronavirus-related financial burdens, which may be lessened by the pending congressional federal relief package, according to a study released today.

The Zillow Group’s analysis found that roughly one-fifth of the employment base in the metro area is comprised of hospitality and retail workers, and their financial hardships have spiked since federal, state and local authorities issued public health directives that resulted in stores, restaurants, motels and hotels shutting down to reduce COVID-19 exposure risks.

According to Zillow, local retail and hospitality workers already spend 44% of their annual income on rent. If they’re unable to work over the next two months, they’ll be paying an average 53% of available funds to pay housing costs, researchers estimated.

“Renters across the country, and in the service industries especially, are already often stretching their budgets,” Zillow Policy Analyst Alexander Casey said. “They are likely to see their rent burden increase if paychecks disappear, which also means they’ll have less funds left after paying housing costs for other essentials, which can quickly become devastating.”

Casey noted that renters may look forward to some relief if the $2 trillion stimulus bill approved by the U.S. Senate and now under consideration in the House of Representatives is passed.

The bill’s provisions include $1,200 per-adult checks, with $500 per-child checks for a household.

“A one-time payment similar to this legislation would ease some of the financial strain on renters who are out of work for two months, lowering the share of annual income needed to cover the year’s rent,” according to Casey.

Zillow’s report is available at https://www.zillow.com/research/rent-affordability-coronavirus-26707/.