More than half of American renters are either living paycheck-to-paycheck or struggling to get by, according to a new study.

David Brickman, Freddie Mac

The study, commissioned by Freddie Mac, surveyed more than 2,000 adults through an online poll in August, administered by Harris Poll. More than 670 people surveyed indicated they were renters. Freddie Mac officials released the survey data on Monday.

About 45 percent of renters responded that they were “just getting by,” while 17 percent of renters indicated they were “struggling” and sometimes don’t have enough money for the food and rent until the next paycheck.

Freddie Mac leaders believe the survey was needed to create a baseline for comparison for future surveys, which are expected to be conducted quarterly, David Brickman says.

Brickman, executive vice president for the multifamily business at Freddie Mac, says it was important for the government-sponsored enterprise to solicit its own survey to ensure the same poll would be administered consistently from here on out.

“We thought there was a need for a commitment to do it over time and keep tracking the issues and adapt it over time,” he says.

The results showed how critical affordable rental housing is, Brickman says. About 62 percent of renters between the ages of 25 and 34 indicated they will continue to rent for the next three years because they cannot afford a down payment for a mortgage. And 60 percent of those surveyed in the age range of 35 to 44 years old also said they couldn’t afford a down payment for a home.

“The financial distress that we see out there amongst renters was not surprising, but it’s notable,” Brickman says.

The survey also gave officials some insight to how renters view homeownership, with 91 percent agreeing that “owning a home is something to be proud of.” Renters were also asked to agree or disagree in various degrees to statements, and 61 percent strongly or somewhat agree that “renting feels like you are throwing your money away," while 78 percent strongly or somewhat agree that “renting provides freedom from home maintenance responsibilities.”

“I think it’s critically important for us to better understand what’s going on,” Brickman says. “As we see rentership becoming more prominent, the question is, what’s driving it? And I think what we’ve done is try to get an understanding of that.”

The rest of the survey can be found here.