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Worst and best places in the United States for housing security

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Credit Sesame discusses housing security and where in the United States has most housing insecurity.

Imagine 3.27 million more homeless people. Even if you can’t picture yourself being among them, think about how such a flood of additional homeless people would strain the finances and social structure of the United States.

According to a Credit Sesame analysis of Census Bureau data, 3.27 million people in the U.S. feel very or somewhat at risk of losing their homes within two months due to eviction or foreclosure. Another 9 million adult Americans are also behind on their rent or mortgage payments.

These figures give some sense of the scope of the housing insecurity problem in this country. As bad as that is, the problem is much more severe in some places than others.

For example, 10.13% of adults in New York State are behind on their housing payments. That’s far more than the 2.33% in West Virginia. Adults in the District of Columbia are more than 12 times as likely to feel at risk of losing their homes as those in Vermont.

Credit Sesame’s study pinpoints where housing security is the shakiest and where it’s relatively solid. The results can give people across the country some idea of the problems their areas might face in the months ahead.

Measuring housing security

To measure the extent of the housing security problem, Credit Sesame analyzed data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

This survey includes information on the number of adults living in rental properties and owner-occupied homes. It shows how many are behind on their housing payments – either rents or mortgage payments. It also asked people whether they felt very or somewhat at risk of losing their homes due to eviction or foreclosure within the next two months.

Credit Sesame broke the data down by each state plus Washington, D.C. It ranked each area by the percentage of people behind on their housing payments and by the percentage who felt at risk of losing their homes.

By averaging the two rankings, Credit Sesame came up with an overall ranking of how severe housing security risk is in each area.

10 places with the worst housing security

  1. Washington, D.C. If the nation’s leaders want to understand the problem of housing insecurity, they don’t have to look far to find examples. The District of Columbia is rated worst for overall housing security. 3.53% of D.C. residents feel very or somewhat at risk of losing their homes to eviction or foreclosure. That’s the highest percentage in the nation. 7.99% of residents are behind on their rent or mortgage payments, the third highest. Combined, those two factors give Washington, D.C. the worst housing insecurity ranking in the country.
  2. Alabama. 3.26% of Alabama residents feel at risk of losing their homes to eviction or foreclosure, the third highest percentage in the country. 7.92% are behind on their rent or mortgage payments, which is the fourth worst.
  3. Georgia. With 2.98% of its residents feeling at risk of eviction or foreclosure, Georgia ranks fifth worse nationally. Georgia adds to that problem by having the sixth highest percentage of adults behind on their housing payments, at 7.68%.
  4. Louisiana. The biggest housing problem in this state is that 9.33% of adults are behind on their housing payments, which is the second highest percentage. 2.02% of adults feel very or somewhat at risk of eviction or foreclosure, which is tenth highest.
  5. Kentucky. This state combines the fourth highest percentage (3.11%) of adults at risk of eviction or foreclosure with the ninth highest percentage (7.01%) behind on their payments.
  6. Texas. Ranking seventh for both risk of losing housing (2.16%) and people behind on housing payments (7.48%) gives Texas the sixth highest average overall ranking.
  7. New York. The key problem here is that 10.13% of the population are behind on their housing payments. That is the worst late payment rate in the nation. 1.9% feel at risk of eviction or foreclosure, which ranks 15th nationally.
  8. Wyoming. 2.26% of Wyoming residents feel at risk of eviction or foreclosure, which is sixth worst in the nation. It ranks 14th in percentage of adults behind on housing payments, at 6.43%.
  9. Mississippi. With 7.15% of its adult population behind on housing payments it ranks eighth in that category, and it ranks 13th in percentage of population at risk of losing their home at 1.96%.
  10. Michigan. It has the second-highest percentage (3.35%) of adults who feel at risk of losing their home, despite the fact that it ranks only 20th in percentage (5.73%) behind on housing payments.

10 states with the best housing security

For the positive side of the picture, here are 10 states where housing security is relatively higher:

  1. West Virginia. Despite having an average income below the national average, West Virginia has the lowest percentage of people behind on their housing payments, at 2.33%. Just 0.46% feel very or somewhat likely to lose their homes, which is fourth-lowest in the nation.
  2. North Dakota. Third-lowest rank for risk of losing home (0.41%) and fourth-lowest (3.49%) for people behind on housing payments.
  3. Montana. Ranks behind only West Virginia for lowest percentage behind on housing payments (3.31%) and has the fifth-lowest percentage (0.50%) at risk of losing their home.
  4. Vermont. This state has the lowest percentage (0.28%) who feel at risk of losing their home, and it has the eleventh-lowest percentage (3.95%) behind on their payments.
  5. Idaho. Fifth-lowest percentage behind on payments (3.58%) and seventh-lowest percentage (0.69%) who feel at risk of losing their home.
  6. Minnesota. Second-lowest percentage (0.35%) who feel at risk of losing their home, and twelfth-lowest (4.10%) behind on housing payments.
  7. Iowa. Seventh-lowest percentage (3.75%) behind on payments and ninth-lowest (0.86%) who feel at risk of losing their home.
  8. Oregon. Sixth-lowest percentage (3.64%) behind on payments and twelfth-lowest (1.04%) who feel at risk of losing their home.
  9. Virginia. Third-lowest percentage (3.41%) behind on payments and 18th-lowest (1.16%) who feel at risk of losing their home.
  10. New Hampshire. 11th-lowest (1.02%) for risk of losing home and 13th-lowest (4.11%) for percentage behind on housing payments.

Housing security is a neighborhood problem

A lack of housing security affects more than those at risk of losing their homes. If more people in your neighborhood become homeless, it hurts you even if your housing is secure.

You might feel a moral obligation to help those in need. Or maybe you’re most concerned about the impact of the homeless on local law and order. Perhaps you’re bothered by how the cost of homelessness is affecting your taxes.

However you feel the problem, and especially if you’re at risk yourself, high rates of housing insecurity in your area are cause for concern and for action.

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Disclaimer: The article and information provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Richard Barrington
Financial analyst for Credit Sesame, Richard Barrington earned his Chartered Financial Analyst designation and worked for over thirty years in the financial industry. He graduated from St. John Fisher College and joined Manning & Napier Advisors. He worked his way up to become head of marketing and client service, an owner of the firm and a member of its governing executive committee. He left the investment business in 2006 to become a financial analyst and commentator with a focus on the impact of the economy on personal finances. In that role he has appeared on Fox Business News and NPR, and has been quoted by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, CNBC and many other publications.

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