Chris Herbert

The COVID-19 pandemic could have a significant impact on naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH) properties.

The health crisis and economic downturn have put a spotlight on people’s ability to pay rent, but many of the problems were at crisis levels even before the pandemic, says Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) at Harvard University, noting that 11 million renters spend more than half of their income on housing.

Only one in four eligible households receive federal housing assistance, meaning that three out of those four needy families have the challenge of finding affordable housing in the private market. Much of the relative housing that’s out there are smaller properties run by mom-and-pop owners, according to Herbert.

The financial strain on these NOAH properties as a result of the pandemic and renters’ inability to pay rent could be significant, he says.

If landlords aren’t receiving rent, they may have to stop performing maintenance or they may even have to sell their properties if they can’t meet their financial obligations.

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