Nearly 23.3 million homeowner households (38%) and 17.8 million renter households (66%) reported having trouble paying for household expenses, including food as well as rent or mortgages, between June 23 and July 5, reports the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

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“Housing affordability and food sufficiency are inseparable to families’ balance sheets,” said Jessica Lautz, NAR vice president of demographics and behavioral insights. “The pandemic has only highlighted many families’ struggle to secure stable housing and food security.”

The organization’s new report, “Housing Affordability and Food Sufficiency,” examines the connection between housing costs and food insecurity.Because rent and mortgage payments are fixed, households have to adjust their spending in other areas, including food, during adverse economic and family conditions.

In 2019,13.2 million households, or nearly 11%, received food stamps. Among homeowners who have a mortgage or a loan, 6% of households (494,841) received food stamps if they were spending between 30% and 50% of their income on housing. The share of households receiving food stamps rises to 12% (597,915) among households spending over 50% of income on housing.

Renters are more vulnerable to having inadequate food to eat, and a higher fraction of renters receive food stamps. Among renter households that spent between 30% and 50% of their incomes on rent, about 21.8% (2.2 million) received food stamps. The share of households receiving food stamps jumps to 34.1% (3.3 million) among households where rent accounts for more than 50% of income, according to the latest study.

“The COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in a loss of jobs, and reduced wages has increased the difficulty for millions of households to keep their homes and apartments and to put enough food on the table,” says the report.

As of July 5, there were 8.1 million households that did not have enough food to eat “sometimes” or “often,” or about one in 10 households. Of this, 3.1 million were homeowners and 5 million were renters, according to NAR, noting that there were 4 million households with children younger than 18 who did not have enough food.

Roughly 5.9 million households received free groceries from food pantries, churches, or other places that offered free food, or 7% of households. Louisiana, South Carolina, and Georgia have the largest shares of households that are both behind on rent or mortgage payments and without enough food to eat.

NAR has partnered with the Food Recovery Network (FRN) since 2019 to fight hunger and food insecurity across the nation. FRN provides guidance and resources that have ensured a number of NAR and its state and local affiliates’ meetings and events are Food Recovery Verified, which allows the group to recover surplus food from various events and donate it to hunger-fighting nonprofits.