Washington, D.C. — The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs and the income they need to pay their bills.
People who rent their homes will be disproportionately affected by the crisis for several reasons: They tend to have lower incomes, are less likely to have a safety net to withstand the crisis, and, since they rent, are unable to borrow against the equity in their homes. Because so many renters were already in economically precarious positions before the crisis, it’s likely that without action from Congress, many could lose their homes.
A new column from the Center for American Progress looks at actions Congress can take to prevent people from losing their homes during and after the pandemic. Among the key recommendations:
- Provide immediate relief to renters and small landlords: There should be a nationwide moratorium on evictions and utility suspensions for tenants affected by the pandemic, along with housing vouchers for all struggling renters. At the same time, Congress should establish an emergency fund to compensate small landlords who have lost income, especially in low-income areas.
- Continue to provide housing relief in the months immediately following the pandemic: Policymakers should expect to see overhang effects in the rental market once the economy starts to reopen. In the medium term, Congress should mandate that people who miss rent payments have an extended time to repay or are given rent forgiveness. It should also support renters through housing vouchers for at least six to 12 months following the pandemic, as well as prohibit rent increases over the next year, urge landlords not to report missed payments to creditors, and support just-cause eviction laws.
- Support long-term strategies that create safe and affordable housing: It may take years for low-income communities to recover from the economic effects of the pandemic. For this reason, it is crucial that Congress promote safe and affordable housing for all—a critical pillar of economic recovery. It can do so by addressing the shortage of affordable housing, re-envisioning the housing stock, and dismantling residential segregation.
“The United State was already experiencing an affordable housing crisis before the pandemic hit, but the economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis has created a situation in which millions of renters could suddenly lose their homes,” said Michela Zonta, a senior policy analyst at CAP and author of the analysis. “What is needed is aggressive action from Congress to support renters not only in the short term but throughout what may be a long recovery. It is essential that Congress use this moment to re-envision a more safe, affordable, and equitable housing stock.”
Read the column: “Congress Must Act Now To Keep Renters in Their Homes During and After the Coronavirus Crisis” by Michela Zonta
For more information or to speak to an expert, please contact Julia Cusick at gro.ssergorpnacirema@kcisucj.
To find the latest CAP resources on the coronavirus, visit our coronavirus resource page.