Rent Debt Continues to Burden Renters Across the Nation

Dear Atlas users,

Millions of households across the United States are still struggling with massive amounts of back rent, putting them and their families at risk for eviction. Use the Rent Debt Dashboard to delve deeper into the latest data on rent debt in the US. Here are more updates from the Atlas:

Landmark Settlement Reached on Behalf of Californians Struggling with Pandemic Rent Debt

The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE Action), Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), and PolicyLink — represented by Western Center on Law & Poverty, Public Counsel, the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and Covington & Burling LLP — have settled a major lawsuit against the California Department of Housing & Community Development (HCD) over the administration of the statewide Covid-19 rent relief program. In June 2022, the advocacy groups sued HCD for several systemic failures in the program, including a confusing application process that led eligible tenants to be wrongfully denied assistance. According to Atlas analyses, more than 460,000 California renter households applied to the program and more than 100,000 households are still waiting for a decision on their applications. The agreement requires HCD to give pending and denied applicants a fair chance to receive Covid-19 rental assistance. To learn more about the settlement and what it means for tenants, visit

Data Update: Rent Debt Dashboard

Rent debt remains at crisis levels across the nation. To continue supporting advocacy efforts and policy action, we’ve updated the Rent Debt Dashboard. The latest data shows that nearly six million renter households remain behind on their rent as of May 8 — about double the pre-pandemic baseline. Altogether, they owe more than $10 billion in total rent debt, with the majority of those behind on rent being low-income people of color.

ICYMI: The Uneven Geography of Affordability for Asian American and Pacific Islander Renters

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are among the fastest-growing communities across the US: between 2010 and 2019, the AAPI population grew by 18 percent, whereas the overall US population grew by only 5 percent. However, the AAPI experience in the US is not monolithic. The second report in our series exploring the changing geography of opportunity in US metros indicates that different AAPI subgroups and ethnicities have widely divergent experiences with rental affordability, with Pacific Islanders experiencing the steepest challenges. Want to delve deeper? You can use this dashboard to explore the differences between and within AAPI communities across the nation.

Atlas in the News

Over the past few months, Atlas data and analyses have been cited by dozens of news outlets, including AxiosMarketWatchLos Angeles TimesTMJ4 News, and The Wall Street JournalTo explore more of our media coverage, visit our news archive.

Atlas on the Road

The Atlas team and our partners facilitate learning sessions and provide presentations on a regular basis to share new data, indicators, best practices, and functionalities. Here’s a brief look at some of our recent presentations: On June 15, Michelle Huang and Simone Robbenolt facilitated a session at Governing for All: California, a convening hosted by the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) in partnership with PolicyLink and State of Equity. During it, participants learned how to use the Atlas as a tool for finding disaggregated data and local strategies to support their work. Simone and Michelle facilitated a virtual session with the 2023 Transformative Justice Infrastructure Fellows on June 8, where they did a walkthrough of how the Atlas could support the implementation of transformative infrastructure-related projects, programs, and processes. On June 9, Selena Tan and Seleeke Flingai joined experts from Recidiviz and the Black Wealth Data Center at a Data Funders Collaborative monthly town hall for a panel discussion about creating a demand for public data with a lens on equity. On June 1, Seleeke and Edward-Michael Muña demonstrated how Atlas data can be put into action through a brief showing of the regional equity profiles being built to support community groups that are looking to leverage funds from the statewide Community Economic Resilience Fund (CERF) program. The session was part of the Community Economic Mobilization Initiative (CEMI) learning series. To learn more, download the slide deck from the session or watch the session recording. On May 25, Selena showcased the Atlas and our approach to data equity at the Leadership Conference Education Fund ’s Data Disaggregation Action Network meeting. On April 28, Michelle and Selena presented at the 2023 KIDS COUNT Data Institute, which was hosted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. During the session, they delved into the Atlas’ approach to data equity and data democratization in developing analyses and working with community-based organizations on equity policy. Interested in hosting a presentation or training? Contact us at

— The National Equity Atlas Team at PolicyLink and the USC Equity Research Institute (ERI)