Cities With the Most Residents in Need of Rental Assistance

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Porch.

Amid historically high levels of inflation, U.S. households are feeling increased financial pressure from rising costs for food, transportation, and especially housing. For many households, increases in housing costs have been particularly challenging, with the average monthly rent nationwide rising 14.1% in 2021.

Due to concerns about household economic security during the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers have made relief for housing costs a priority in their response. Congress has allocated more than $46 billion to fund rental assistance programs over the last two years, and many states have used other state or federal dollars to provide additional support.

But needs for rental assistance have varied across the U.S., and not all renters who need assistance have been able to obtain it. As of early 2022, 16.8% of renter households reported that they were behind on rent payments, but only 12.9% of renters have applied for assistance programs and only 5% of renters have received assistance. Nearly 2 in 5 applications for assistance are denied.

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. To determine the locations where the most renters applied for assistance, researchers at Porch calculated the percentage of renters that applied for assistance between January and February of 2022. In the event of a tie, the location with the higher percentage of renters that received assistance was ranked higher. Only U.S. states and the 15 major metros with available data from the Household Pulse Survey were included in this analysis.

Here are the major metropolitan areas where the most renters applied for assistance.

15. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Percentage of renters that applied for assistance: 7.9%
  • Percentage of renters that received assistance: 1.6%
  • Approval rate for rental assistance applicants: 26.5%
  • Percentage of renters behind on rent: 12.2%

14. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA

Atlanta, Georgia
f11 photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters that applied for assistance: 8.4%
  • Percentage of renters that received assistance: 1.4%
  • Approval rate for rental assistance applicants: 46.8%
  • Percentage of renters behind on rent: 11.2%

13. Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ

Phoenix, Arizona
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters that applied for assistance: 8.4%
  • Percentage of renters that received assistance: 3.8%
  • Approval rate for rental assistance applicants: 58.9%
  • Percentage of renters behind on rent: 10.8%

12. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA

Riverside California traffic
Michael Vi / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters that applied for assistance: 8.7%
  • Percentage of renters that received assistance: 2.9%
  • Approval rate for rental assistance applicants: 55.4%
  • Percentage of renters behind on rent: 20.1%

11. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

U.S. Capitol
Orhan Cam / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters that applied for assistance: 10.5%
  • Percentage of renters that received assistance: 5.4%
  • Approval rate for rental assistance applicants: 83.1%
  • Percentage of renters behind on rent: 13.5%

10. San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA

San Francisco, California
IM_photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters that applied for assistance: 11.7%
  • Percentage of renters that received assistance: 4.7%
  • Approval rate for rental assistance applicants: 67.1%
  • Percentage of renters behind on rent: 11.4%

9. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL

thunderstorm lightning in Miami, Florida
gary718 / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters that applied for assistance: 12.0%
  • Percentage of renters that received assistance: 3.1%
  • Approval rate for rental assistance applicants: 38.3%
  • Percentage of renters behind on rent: 18.4%

8. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

Los Angeles
ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters that applied for assistance: 12.1%
  • Percentage of renters that received assistance: 5.1%
  • Approval rate for rental assistance applicants: 63.2%
  • Percentage of renters behind on rent: 16.0%

7. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

Downtown Seattle
Mark Payne / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters that applied for assistance: 12.2%
  • Percentage of renters that received assistance: 3.2%
  • Approval rate for rental assistance applicants: 47.7%
  • Percentage of renters behind on rent: 15.2%

6. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD

Philadelphia cityscape
Tupungato / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters that applied for assistance: 13.3%
  • Percentage of renters that received assistance: 2.8%
  • Approval rate for rental assistance applicants: 45.3%
  • Percentage of renters behind on rent: 17.1%

5. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

Dallas, Texas
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters that applied for assistance: 14.9%
  • Percentage of renters that received assistance: 5.4%
  • Approval rate for rental assistance applicants: 65.1%
  • Percentage of renters behind on rent: 11.8%

4. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

Houston, Texas
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters that applied for assistance: 16.0%
  • Percentage of renters that received assistance: 2.3%
  • Approval rate for rental assistance applicants: 22.4%
  • Percentage of renters behind on rent: 21.5%

3. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI

Chicago, Illinois
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters that applied for assistance: 16.4%
  • Percentage of renters that received assistance: 8.8%
  • Approval rate for rental assistance applicants: 86.4%
  • Percentage of renters behind on rent: 21.9%

2. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

THONGCHAI.S / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters that applied for assistance: 17.2%
  • Percentage of renters that received assistance: 5.9%
  • Approval rate for rental assistance applicants: 57.7%
  • Percentage of renters behind on rent: 29.3%

1. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI

Detroit, Michigan
Susanne Pommer / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renters that applied for assistance: 19.0%
  • Percentage of renters that received assistance: 10.2%
  • Approval rate for rental assistance applicants: 81.1%
  • Percentage of renters behind on rent: 25.8%

Methodology

Man analyzing data on a laptop
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. To determine the locations where the most renters applied for assistance, researchers calculated the percentage of renters that applied for assistance between January and February of 2022.

In the event of a tie, the location with the higher percentage of renters that received assistance was ranked higher. Only U.S. states and the 15 major metros with available data from the Household Pulse Survey were included in this analysis.

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