Washington, DC – Without immediate action, millions of people in America will be evicted from their homes during a pandemic. Senate Republican proposals would do next to nothing to avoid this predictable and preventable disaster. They propose only $3.3 billion to cover lost income for current Housing Choice Voucher, Public Housing and Rural rental assistance tenants. This funding is a drop in an ocean of need among unsubsidized renters and people experiencing homelessness.
Every day of Senate inaction puts more low-income renters at immediate risk of losing their homes. Federal, state and local eviction moratoriums are expiring rapidly, and local rental assistance programs are being quickly depleted by overwhelming need. When our collective health depends on an ability to stay in our home, we all have a stake in preventing millions of families from being kicked out of theirs.
The increase in Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits has helped many low-income households continue to pay their bills, but even at its current level it is insufficient to ensure housing stability during and after the pandemic. Low-wage workers, who are most likely to experience unemployment, are among those individuals least likely to receive standard unemployment benefits. Millions of workers who have experienced a loss of income through pay cuts, reductions in hours, or other loss of earnings may not be eligible for unemployment benefits and will struggle to afford rent with reduced wages.
Congress can prevent the imminent wave of evictions and all their harmful outcomes by immediately enacting a uniform, national moratorium on all evictions for nonpayment of rent for the duration of the public health emergency and providing at least $100 billion in emergency rental assistance. Rental assistance will keep low-income renters stably housed and allow small landlords to continue to maintain and operate their properties. Congress should also provide $11.5 billion to homeless shelter and service providers to respond to and prevent outbreaks among people experiencing homelessness.
Evicting millions of families during a pandemic is cruel and senseless. Evictions risk lives, further burden overstretched hospital systems, and make it much more difficult for the country to contain the virus. The stakes couldn’t be higher during this public health crisis: Ensuring that everyone is stably housed during and after the COVID-19 pandemic is not only a moral imperative – it is a public health necessity. The Senate should immediately enact the essential housing protections and provisions that passed the House over two months ago.
About NLIHC: Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, the National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that ensures people with the lowest income in the United States have affordable and decent homes.