The National Multifamily Housing Council’s Rent Payment Tracker found that more people made a full or partial rent payment in the first six days of May compared to the same period in April, despite the ongoing economic hardships related to coronavirus.

By May 6, 80.2% of apartment households had paid at least some rent, according to the NMHC’s survey of 11.4 million professionally managed apartment units across the United States.

That’s 1.5 percentage points lower than the share who paid rent in the first six days of May 2019, and just over two percentage points higher than the share who paid in the first six days of April 2020.

NMHC President Doug Bibby said he expects the payment rate to continue to rise during the rest of May as financial assistance reaches renters’ bank accounts.

NMHC is calling on Congress to provide $100 million in direct renter assistance in its next pandemic relief package, Bibby said, warning that the pandemic has strained many renters’ finances.

“We are in uncharted waters and will be watching this closely over the course of the month as millions of households will not be able to access unemployment benefits, and those who have may find that they are not enough to cover rent plus all the other financial pressures caused by this crisis,” Bibby said. “Those benefits will also likely fall short in high-cost areas.”

While many building owners have suspended evictions, waived late fees and otherwise moved to help renters stay in their apartments, government assistance is needed, said David Schwartz, chairman of NMHC and chairman and CEO of the Chicago-based real estate investment and property management company Waterton.

Bibby said apartment owners have $1.6 trillion in outstanding mortgage debt, and a rent gap could lead to a “cascading effect.”

“If they can’t cover their debt, we might see a wave of multifamily foreclosures that could rival the single-family foreclosures that occurred during the Great Recession,” he said.

The NMHC survey includes a variety of market-rate properties around the country. The pandemic may have caused some technical issues with historical comparisons in places where shelter-in-place orders closed offices or otherwise delayed payment processing.

The tracker is powered by Entrata, MRI Software, RealPage, ResMan and Yardi.