Americans skipping meals to cope with rising costs – poll

A new survey has found that half of US homeowners and renters are struggling to afford their housing payments

Half of Americans are struggling to afford their rising housing costs, and the financial squeeze is so severe for many that over one in five skip meals to get by, a new poll has revealed.

The survey, commissioned by Seattle-based real estate brokerage Redfin and released on Friday, showed that 50% of US homeowners and renters have had difficulties making their housing payments. Many respondents said they had to make sacrifices to cope with inflationary pressures. For instance, 22% reported that they had skipped meals, 21% sold some of their belongings, and a combined 37% either worked extra hours or took on additional jobs.

“Housing has become so financially burdensome in America that some families can no longer afford other essentials, including food and medical care, and have been forced to make major sacrifices, work overtime and ask others for money so they can cover their monthly costs,” said Redfin’s economic research chief, Chen Zhao.

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Home prices and rents have risen sharply in many US cities, and mortgage rates remain elevated after reaching a 23-year high last October. Redfin said the typical US household income is about $30,000 a year lower than the level needed to afford a median-priced home.

Nearly 35% of poll respondents said they were taking fewer vacations, or none at all, to keep up with their housing payments. About 18% borrowed money from friends and family or dipped into their retirement savings. For 16%, the cash crunch was so difficult that they had to delay or forgo needed medical care.

The US inflation rate rose to the highest level in more than 40 years in June 2022, prompting the Federal Reserve to boost interest rates in an attempt to tame prices. The pace of inflation has slowed since then, but price growth rose to 3.2% from a year earlier in February, higher than economists expected. The increase dimmed hopes that the US central bank will soon begin pushing interest rates lower.

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Many young Americans have had to give up their apartments and move back in with their parents. A Harris/Bloomberg poll last September found that 45% of 18- to 29-year-olds are living at home with their parents or other relatives, the highest level since the 1940s. Most of those had moved back home within the past two years.

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