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Utah women and children struggle to make rent, census survey shows

Posted at 6:17 PM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-26 20:17:51-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah can boast the nation’s best unemployment rate, at 2.8%, but the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau surveys shows thousands of Utahns are on the edge when it comes to one of life’s most basic requirements: shelter.

Women and children in the state are far more likely to be behind on the rent, according to the Week 29 Pulse Survey in which the bureau got responses from more than 78,000 Americans about a broad range of issues during the pandemic.

FOX 13 focused on rent after seeing the difference between women and men paying the rent and looking into it, it became evident that the disparities go beyond sex.

We took the numbers to the Executive Director of the Utah Housing Coalition, Tara Rollins. She said the numbers are troubling but unsurprising because housing prices are skyrocketing while wages are not.

“The problem is the market you can get higher rents and unfortunately we have a lot of people who are working in low wage jobs,” Rollins said.

Here are the numbers for Utah women and men saying they were behind on rent. For context, nationally, women made up 54 percent of those behind on rent in the survey.

Households with children in Utah are twice as likely to be behind on rent.

For context, nationwide, there is more rental insecurity overall. 24 percent of households with children are behind on rent compared with 14 percent of households without children. That makes the disparity between the two numbers less, but the overall situation worse for all involved.

Marital status is also a clear factor, with widowed, divorced and separated adults far more likely to owe the landlord.

Utah households with 3 people and Utah households with 7 or more people were most likely to owe rent compared to all other configurations.

Rollins believes the number 3 is significant.

“It’s usually a single parent with two children,” she said.

Hispanic and Latinos in Utah are also far more likely to owe rent money than non-Hispanic white Utahns.