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Women face disproportionate housing impacts due to the coronavirus, according to a recent report from Zillow. Why is that? Women are reportedly more likely to be unemployed, renters and caregivers during the pandemic, putting them more at risk.

Zillow found that women are more likely to work in service-sector industries, which are among the most affected by the current health crisis. According to Zillow, four times as many women as men left the workforce in September—totaling almost 865,000 women or 80 percent of all workers who dropped out of the labor force in that month.

Additionally, because female householders overall are more likely to be renters—37 percent of female householders are renters compared to 31 percent for men—women have been hit hardest at the rental level as any loss of income could be detrimental if renters’ cost burdens are high enough.

According to Zillow’s analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data, 45 percent of female renter households are cost-burdened—meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, compared to 36 percent of male renter households. Twenty-four percent of female renter households are “severely” cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than half of their income on housing, compared to 17 percent of male renter households.

And there’s a gap even among women. For example, Zillow found that women of color are more likely to be cost-burdened by housing. More than half (51 percent) of Latinx female renter households and 49 percent of Black female renter households are cost burdened. More than a quarter (27 percent) of both Hispanic and Black female renter households are severely cost-burdened.

Additionally, women are more at risk because mothers of school-age children are reportedly having more difficulty regaining employment due to closures of childcare centers and schools or a need for someone to be home for hybrid or virtual learning. A Zillow analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse survey shows working mothers were three times more likely than working fathers to cite childcare as the main reason they were out of work (22.1 percent of mothers vs. 7.7 percent of fathers).

“Direct rental assistance and extending unemployment assistance could help women cover housing payment obligations and keep women afloat and in their homes for the time being,” said Zillow Senior Economist Cheryl Young. “However, these are short-term fixes. Longer-term solutions, like creating more affordable housing stock, economic policies that assist working parents and increased voucher availability, are vital to ensuring that housing burdens don’t fall disproportionately on women.”

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