Washington, D.C. — With a nationwide eviction moratorium expiring just days before August 1 rents are due, a new report from the Center for American Progress looks at how policymakers’ premature lifting of coronavirus restrictions is increasing evictions and worsening the homelessness crisis.
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, homelessness and housing affordability were already a national emergency. Over the past few months, the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated this crisis. CAP’s new report explains how the premature lifting or relaxing of emergency ordinances and restrictions may lead to what some are calling a “housing apocalypse.”
By prematurely easing policies meant to provide housing assistance, policymakers are undermining essential housing and homelessness services and resources, exacerbating evictions and foreclosures, pushing more people into homelessness, and, ultimately, resuming the enforcement of anti-homelessness legislation that further criminalizes poverty.
The report recommends the following policy solutions to help ameliorate the housing and homelessness crisis:
- Guarantee and expand anti-homelessness aid and protections, including maintaining a minimum of $11.5 billion in Emergency Solutions Grants to aid and protect people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic.
- Maintain and enhance housing insecurity protections, including implementing a national, comprehensive moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for all renters and homeowners as well as guaranteeing a right to counsel.
- Jointly tie landlord and renter relief to prevent illegal evictions and hold landlords accountable through renter-centered aid.
- Allocate substantial and sustained flexible funding to strengthen state and local infrastructure and capacity to meet the demand for assistance to local populations with the greatest need.
“It’s not hyperbolic to say that we may be on the verge of a ‘housing apocalypse’,” said Jaboa Lake, a senior policy analyst for the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress. “Years of systematic underinvesment in affordable housing that has increased disparities for the most vulnerable communities, coupled with the coronavirus crisis, means that millions of U.S. residents are now struggling to keep their homes. Now is not the time to sunset housing and homelessness relief aid or policies. Housing is health care. Congress and state and local policymakers must act quickly, comprehensively, and aggressively to ensure that folks at risk of losing their homes are able to keep a roof over their heads and stay safe from the virus.”
Read the report: “Kicking Folks Out While They’re Down” by Rejane Frederick and Jaboa Lake
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