NLIHC will be hosting weekly national calls on COVID-19 and housing/homelessness on Monday afternoons. The next call is this coming Monday, April 20 at 2:30 to 4 pm ET. Participants include former presidential candidate and HUD Secretary Julian Castro; Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria; Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison; District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine; Director of A Way Home America Megan Gibbard Kline; and updates from Texas, Florida, and Georgia! Register at: https://tinyurl.com/ru73qan
In addition to the weekly national calls, NLIHC is conducting smaller, more focused working group calls related to coronavirus, housing and homelessness: a biweekly “Tenant Talk Live” call for resident leaders on Mondays at 6 pm ET (April 27 is the next call); a weekly Legislative Working Group call on Tuesdays at 12:30 pm ET; a weekly Working with FEMA Working Group call on Tuesdays at 3 pm ET; a weekly State and Local Implementation Working Group call on Wednesdays at 3 pm ET; a biweekly Puerto Rico Working Group call on Thursdays at 3 pm ET (April 30 is the next call); and a weekly Long-Term Solutions Working Group call on Fridays at 3 pm ET (beginning May 8). Learn more and join these working groups at the links above or at: https://nlihc.org/covid-19-working-groupcalls
The NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) continues to advocate for a broad array of resources and protections, including emergency rental assistance and eviction prevention assistance; a national moratorium on evictions and foreclosures; and emergency funds for homelessness service providers, housing authorities, and housing providers, among other recommendations. For more information, see our full list of recommendations, which will continue to be expanded and refined. Additionally, NLIHC has compiled a list of regulatory recommendations.
NLIHC maintains a COVID-19/Housing and Homelessness News and Resource page here
FEMA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are collecting and sharing best practices for responding to COVID-19.
FEMA announced that it will conduct remote home inspections for disaster survivors to protect the health and safety of all Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Housing and Urban Development
HUD awarded $1.5 million in Partnership and Special Enforcement Effort funds to HUD Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) partner agencies. The funds, provided through the CARE Act, will support COVID-related educational activities.
HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Federal Housing Commissioner and Assistance HUD Secretary Brian Montgomery, and Vice President Mike Pence participated in a phone call with mortgage and business leaders to discuss existing programs assisting borrowers and prohibitions on eviction as a prerequisite for mortgage forbearance. NLIHC staff participated on the call.
Department of Agriculture
USDA announced that emergency benefit increases have reached $2 billion per month for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Prompted by COVID-19, these emergency benefits represent a 40% increase in overall monthly SNAP benefits.
The NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) continues to advocate a broad array of resources and protections, including emergency rental assistance and eviction prevention assistance; a national moratorium on evictions and foreclosures; and emergency funds for homelessness service providers, housing authorities, and housing providers, among other recommendations. For more information, see DHRC’s full list of recommendations, which will continue to be expanded and refined. NLIHC has compiled a list of regulatory recommendations.
The Eviction Lab and Emily Benfer of Columbia Law School have developed a COVID-19 housing policy scorecard for 50 states and Washington, DC to evaluate each state’s response and identify best practices in housing policy. The scorecard allows quick comparison of states’ homelessness prevention policies during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Terner Center published a new analysis Estimating COVID-19’s Near-Term Impact on Renters to examine the extent to which renter households may be impacted by the initial economic effects of the pandemic.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argued that the upcoming COVID-19 relief package should fund at least 500,000 new Housing Choice Vouchers and large-scale funding for short-term emergency rental assistance.
Urban Institute’s Urban Wire Blog explores how public housing authorities are supporting at-risk residents during COVID-19.Reporting
A new Pew Research Center survey finds that the economic fallout from COVID-19 is impacting lower-income adults the hardest. In addition to being more likely than higher-income adults to have lost a job or taken a pay cut due to COVID-19, lower-income adults are less prepared to withstand the financial shock. Only 23% of lower income adults reported having emergency funds to cover their expenses for three months, compared to 48% of middle-income and 75% of upper-income adults.
Housing advocates interviewed by USA Today discuss the need for permanent affordable housing solutions rather than pushing people experiencing homelessness into temporary, makeshift housing. The advocates express frustration at the federal government's slow response to addressing the needs of people experiencing homelessness during COVID-19.
Isabel Solange Munoz, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Tennessee, describes how COVID-19 is exacerbating the nation’s housing crisis and how it will lead to greater inequality. Read the Business Insider article.
In The Hill, Mary Cunningham and Laurie Goodman of the Urban Institute discuss the urgent need for emergency rental assistance.
VICE interviewed shelter workers across the country. Employees reported that they are understaffed and overworked, and that they lack personal protective equipment (PPE). Staff at shelters revealed that their workplaces were not adhering to CDC guidelines concerning social distancing space and protective equipment.
CityLab examines the difference between how the federal government and cities across the country are addressing homelessness during the pandemic. While cities like New York and California are moving shelter residents to hotels, the Federal COVID-19 Homelessness Workgroup has offered guidance to faith-based shelters on how to resist moving residents to hotel rooms.
The Washington Post reports on how a New York facility for low-income seniors is demonstrating that vulnerable citizens are being left behind during COVID-19. Advocates express frustration at New York’s slow response to requests for moving residents of supportive housing and shelters to hotel rooms and dormitories.
Mỹ Dzung Chu, a member of Dorchester Not for Sale, writes in an opinion piece about how COVID-19 has exposed the limitations of our existing housing safety nets. Dorchester Not for Sale is a grassroot coalition of more than 100 residents organizing for affordable housing, employment, community safety, and preserving ethnic-specific services in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
A list of local eviction and foreclosure moratoriums is available here from NLIHC.
A list of state and local emergency rental assistance programs is available here from NLIHC.
A list of local shelter closings is available here from NLIHC.
Governor Mike Dunleavy issued the State of Alaska’s COVID-19 Health Mandate 014 on Non-Congregate Sheltering. Alaska state officials announced a plan to use hotels, university dormitories, and other buildings to temporarily quarantine health care workers and homeless families with at least one member who has tested positive for COVID-19 or requires quarantine.
An Arkansas Democrat-Gazette report uncovered at least 300 evictions filed under the state’s unlawful-detainer law since March 11. Law Professor Lynn Foster identified more than 60 unlawful detainer eviction suits filed throughout Arkansas between March 27 and April 17. Arkansas is the only state that classifies nonpayment of rent as a criminal offense.
Little Rock awarded nearly $30,000 in grants to assist local homeless service providers in responding to COVID-19. Fifteen provider organizations received funds to purchase disinfecting supplies, personal items, thermometers, tents, and other supplies.
The Phoenix City Council unanimously approved the allocation of nearly $18 million of federal funding to address homelessness and housing insecurity and provide grants for local small businesses and nonprofit organizations. The vote marks the city’s largest Community Development Block Grant investment in addressing homelessness.
Despite heightened risk in Phoenix encampments, local governments have not yet taken up a CDC recommendation to encourage people to set up tents with at least 12-by-12 feet of space per individual.
In Phoenix, Circle The City, a community health nonprofit, has turned its employee parking lot into a temporary medical camp to care for individuals experiencing homelessness who test positive for COVID-19.
Governor Gavin Newsom provided an update on Project Roomkey, a program to house people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. He announced that California has acquired 10,974 hotel rooms and 5,025 motel rooms, including rooms provided by Motel 6 at 47 locations in 19 counties across California. Newsome said that more than 4,000 sheltered and unsheltered people have moved into motel rooms so far.
U.S. District Judge David O. Carter overruled cities’ objections to Governor Newsom’s emergency order to house people experiencing homelessness at local hotels. Several cities, including Bell Gardens and Lawndale, made efforts to prevent local hotels from contracting with Los Angeles County as part of Project Roomkey.
People experiencing homelessness who have not tested positive for COVID-19 and do not have symptoms will have access to a new isolation site at a LaQuinta Inn in Berkeley, making it the third known site for people experiencing homelessness in Alameda County.
Health officials announced that 43 residents and staff of the Union Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter in Los Angeles, have tested positive for COVID-19. More than 200 tests were administered at the shelter within the past week.
Governor Newsom charged some municipalities of resisting the conversion of hotels and motels into emergency housing, accused the cities of allowing NIMBY politics to interfere with a public health imperative.
After a COVID-19 outbreak at San Francisco’s largest homeless shelter infected at least 105 people as of last Friday, the city is shifting its approach to addressing homelessness during the pandemic. San Francisco’s city council unanimously passed an emergency ordinance mandating the city to acquire 8,250 hotel rooms by April 26 for people experiencing homelessness.
More than 250 Colorado National Guard members are helping the city and county of Denver to shelter people experiencing homelessness.
Rather than enacting a statewide eviction moratorium, Colorado Governor Jared Polis has only issued guidance to limit evictions. With courts and local governments left to make decisions on evictions, thousands of Colorado renters face uncertainty about possible evictions.
Connecticut legislators responded to questions asked by University of Connecticut students, in which the students raised concerns about people experiencing homelessness during COVID-19. Representative Gregory Haddad (D-CT) responded that the state has identified additional housing opportunities in motels across Connecticut.
A coalition of advocates led by University of Miami physician Armen Henderson held a press conference on April 17 to announce plans to serve people experiencing homelessness in Miami-Dade County. These efforts include expanded COVID-19 testing, portable showers and toilets, and distribution of masks and tents to those in need.
Florida’s eviction ban during COVID-19 does not protect people living in hotels and motels. Orlando’s Channel 9 asked Orange County’s mayor’s office if he would issue an ordinance to protect the families living in hotels and motels. The mayor’s office responded that such an ordinance is not under consideration at this time.
Atlanta has tested more than 2,000 people experiencing homelessness, discovering approximately 30 new positive cases in shelters. As of April 20, the total number of people experiencing homelessness who have tested positive in Atlanta is at least 55.
Doctors in Hawaii have expressed concern that the state is not taking necessary steps to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak in homeless shelters. On Oahu, officials scrapped plans to provide walk-in testing at Iwilei Center for 4,400 residents experiencing homelessness. Instead, the city and state direct people experiencing homelessness with coronavirus-related concerns to contact its CARES hotline.
Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (IL-4) and more than two dozen public health experts and elected officials launched the Illinois Latino COVID-19 Initiative, which seeks to improve outreach about the coronavirus to the state’s Latino communities. Latinos comprise 60% of the population in the ten zip codes in Illinois with the fastest growing number of new cases.
A Safe Haven, a Chicago homeless shelter, opened a 100-bed isolated shelter for COVID-19 patients experiencing homelessness. Rush University Medical Center and Heartland Alliance will provide medical and behavioral health care.
Increased COVID-19 testing in Chicago homeless shelters has indicated varying levels of infection. At some shelters, half of staff and residents tested positive for the coronavirus.
Advocates urged the Chicago Housing Authority to open its 2,042 vacant units to people experiencing homelessness during the coronavirus pandemic.
Housing Action Illinois has received $340,000 through NLIHC and the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund to distribute to partners throughout the state who are addressing the urgent COVID-19-related needs of people experiencing homelessness or at-risk of becoming homeless.
Seventeen housing organizations and advocacy groups including Prosperity Indiana (an NLIHC state partner) sent a letter to Senator Todd Young (R-IN) urging him to include $100 billion in emergency rental assistance in the next coronavirus response bill.
The Coalition to Protect Missouri Tenants organized a demonstration on I-70 to call attention to the pandemic’s impact on the state’s housing and homelessness crisis. The coalition intended to raise awareness of its demands for Governor Mark Parson to protect Missouri tenants.
A report issued by HousingNOLA and the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance found that New Orleans fell short of the affordable housing goals it set in 2016. The ongoing shortage of affordable housing in New Orleans has been exacerbated by COVID-19, which is contributing to widespread housing insecurity.
The Washington Post discusses New Orleans’ project to move people experiencing homelessness into hotels. The project is overseen by state and local entities, including the New Orleans Office of Community and Economic Development and the Louisiana Housing Corporation.
Governor Janet Mills signed an executive order protecting tenants from eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic and establishing a rental assistance relief program. Governor Mills, in partnership with MaineHousing, established the $5 million COVID-19 Rent Relief Program to provide eligible households with a one-time rental assistance payment of up to $500.
A resident of the Hope House shelter in Bangor has tested positive for COVID-19. This marks the first reported case of COVID-19 in an individual accessing the city’s homelessness services. City officials and community health partners are seeking a quarantine space for people experiencing homelessness who test positive.
Kevin Lindamood, CEO of Health Care for the Homeless in Baltimore, and Dr. Adrienne Trustman, Chief Medical Officer, argue that emerging awareness of the asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 in homeless shelters demands an immediate response from state and federal officials.
Advocates disrupted Baltimore Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young’s COVID-19 media briefing to demand that the city take urgent action to protect people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. Young’s deputy chief of staff, Cheryl Goldstein, reported that Baltimore city has moved about 200 healthy individuals over the age of 62 experiencing homelessness into hotels. Another 100 people experiencing homelessness who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are awaiting results are isolated in a separate hotel.
After learning of a second outbreak at a city shelter, Baltimore officials have plans to move 150 more people experiencing homelessness into hotels. Housing providers and advocates argue that officials need to fill vacant permanent housing units to protect people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic.
Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill blocking all eviction and foreclosure proceedings in the state for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.
The Baker Administration announced its ongoing strategy to address homelessness during the coronavirus pandemic. The strategy involves five key initiatives, including opening isolation and recovery sites for people experiencing homelessness who test positive for COVID-19 and expediting distribution of personal protective equipment to shelters.
John Yazwinski, president and CEO of a nonprofit that operates homeless shelters in Quincy and Brockton, discussed his organization’s strategy to depopulate its shelters and expressed the need for a statewide shelter plan during COVID-19.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order halting evictions, now extended until May 15, does not protect people living in hotels, motels, and Airbnbs. While acknowledging that hotels follow different laws than landlords, housing advocates and attorneys expressed concern about families excluded from Michigan’s eviction ban.
With funding from United Way’s Disaster Relief Fund, 100 hotel rooms in Battle Creek have been acquired to use as quarantine space for people experiencing homelessness who are symptomatic or who have tested positive for COVID-19.
The Minnesota Heading Home Alliance released a map estimating the number of isolation and protection beds needed at the county/tribal level using 2019 “point-in-time” counts of shelter beds and unsheltered individuals.
Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford announced that Aaron’s Inc. will donate 500 mattresses to homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, and families fostering children across the state.
Last week, the Trenton City Council approved a $500,000 contract for emergency homeless shelters during the COVID-19 pandemic. The emergency shelters will be for people experiencing homelessness who need to be quarantined or who are at risk of being infected. Trenton, which has more than 300 people experiencing homelessness, established plans to open four shelters, including one designated for women and children fleeing domestic violence.
Nonprofit organization Bridges has collaborated with the city of Newark to move 150 people experiencing homelessness into separate hotel rooms to self-isolate or receive critical medical attention. Over the past four weeks, Bridges has housed people experiencing homelessness in a hotel near Newark Airport.
Eva’s Village, a nonprofit social service organization in Paterson, has made adjustments to its facilities to strengthen its capacity to serve clients who are battling homelessness, substance abuse, and the coronavirus.
New York City’s Department of Homeless Services reported that 51 people using its services have died due to COVID-19. The coronavirus has spread to more than one-third of the city’s 450 shelters.
The New York City Council introduced a virus relief package that included measures to protect tenants and people experiencing homelessness. The legislation would prohibit collection of debts from and eviction of tenants impacted by COVID-19 until April 2021. Another bill included in the relief package would require the city to provide single adults experiencing homelessness with private rooms until the pandemic ends. The City Council also voted on measures to create and preserve over 2,000 units of affordable housing.
New York City fell short of its goal of moving 2,500 people experiencing homelessness to hotel rooms by April 20. The Department of Homeless Services has moved approximately 1,050 people experiencing homelessness into hotel rooms since the onset of COVID-19. The agency is aware of 617 positive COVID-19 cases among people in shelters or lacking stable housing.
Four people experiencing homelessness in New York who are staying in hotel rooms crowdfunded through the “Homeless Can’t Stay Home” campaign shared their experiences with The City.
More than 500 New York-based doctors, nurses, and social workers sent a letter to city officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo urging the city to take immediate actions to protect people experiencing homelessness. Read the letter here
New York’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) requested that developers of nearly completed affordable housing projects increase the number of apartments allocated for people experiencing homelessness. While this would not be a legal requirement, HPD would use city rental voucher money to pay for the units allocated for the people who are formerly homeless.
The Coalition for the Homeless and allies continue to urge elected officials to protect homeless New Yorkers during COVID-19. The number of single adults in New York City’s homeless shelter system reached a record high last week. According to the Coalition for the Homeless, nearly 17,700 single men and women slept in shelters last Thursday.
Families experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia are struggling to find shelter even as hotel rooms in the city’s quarantine sites remain vacant. City officials reported that roughly two-thirds of the 150 rooms in the city-leased Holiday Inn were vacant last week. However, the facility does not admit families and only individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are awaiting test results are eligible to stay there.
City, county, nonprofit organizations, and faith-based partners in Austin created “Eating Apart Together,” a coordinated food delivery system for people experiencing homelessness. The city also established a contract to provide 1,000 refrigerated ready-to-eat meals per day for people experiencing homelessness.
Richmond will spend $5.8 million in federal and local funds to address housing instability and homelessness during the coronavirus pandemic. Mayor Levar Stoney announced that he intends to supplement $4.2 million from the CARES Act with another $1 million from the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
According to data released by the Department of Human Services, COVID-19 is impacting how Seattle’s Navigation Team is approaching homelessness. Acting under a policy that restricts sweeping encampments during the pandemic, the Navigation Team is focused on a public health approach rather than moving people into shelters.
Approximately 11,100 people in the Seattle area do not have homes. In many cases, they lack access to basic hygiene services. City and county efforts have focused on three areas: (1) opening new overnight shelters to decrease crowding in existing shelters; (2) creating isolation, quarantine and recovery units; and (3) installing additional hygiene services for people living outside.
According to Washington D.C.’s Department of Human Services, approximately 250 people experiencing homelessness were staying at hotels as of April 22. Officials reported that the city is leasing rooms at five hotel sites, including one location for elderly and medically vulnerable people who have not tested positive for COVID-19 or experienced probable exposure.
The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia (ACLU-WV) is considering filing a lawsuit after the City of Wheeling cleared a homeless encampment. The ACLU-WV demanded that the city stop dispersing encampments and develop housing options for those who have been displaced.
Shelter providers in Wisconsin are collaborating with local governments to move temporarily into larger facilities to accommodate social distancing requirements during the coronavirus pandemic. Ice rinks, recreation centers, and hotels have been transformed into temporary shelters for people experiencing homelessness.
Policy and Guidance
Administration for Children and Families
Center for Disease Control
Housing and Urban Development
Infections Disease Toolkit for CoCs (now in Spanish)
State and Local Guidance