Please note that NLIHC will be hosting weekly national calls on COVID-19 and housing/homelessness every Monday afternoon. The next call is this coming Monday, May 4 at 2:30 to 4 pm ET. Representative David Price (D-NC) will be joining us, as well as President and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) Nan Roman, Chandra Crawford of NAEH, and Solomon Greene of the Urban Institute. Field updates will focus on Puerto Rico, Arizona, and South Dakota. Register for the call here: https://tinyurl.com/ru73qan
NLIHC maintains and updates a COVID-19/Housing and Homelessness News and Resource page here.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that Democrats are considering approximately $1 trillion in state and local government needs for the next coronavirus spending bill. Republican lawmakers, however, rejected the idea of providing such a significant amount of money to state and local budgets. House Democrats are considering a variety of other provisions, including money for health care providers, food stamps, direct payments to individuals, and housing assistance. Speaker Pelosi suggested that the House will be returning to the Capitol the week of May 11.
Federal Housing Finance Administration
FHFA released a statement reiterating that borrowers in forbearance with a Fannie Mae- or Freddie Mac-backed mortgage are not required to repay missed payments in a lump sum at the end of the forbearance plan.
FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor discussed FEMA’s response to COVID-19. Read more here.
Department of Treasury
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Small Business Administrator (SBA) Jovita Carranza issued a joint statement on April 28 regarding the SBA’s review procedure for Paycheck Protection Program loans.
The NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) will continue 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 homeless service providers, housing authorities, and housing providers. For more information, see DHRC’s full list of recommendations.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explored the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people of color and people with the lowest incomes who struggled with significant health and economic challenges prior to the pandemic. The report demonstrates the need for Congress to include measures in the next coronavirus relief package to help people with the fewest resources avoid hardships like eviction, homelessness, and food insecurity.
Community Solutions has a “Take Action” page where individuals can email their mayors and governors urging them to prioritize the needs of low-income renters, people experiencing homelessness, and homeless services staff.
In an ABC News report, NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel urged Congress to include an additional $100 billion in rental assistance in the next coronavirus relief package to prevent evictions and avert a significant spike in homelessness and displacement after the moratoriums expire.
Tens of thousands tenants across the country participated in a coordinated rent strike on May 1. The strikes were concentrated in Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia. Cea Weaver, communications director for Housing Justice for All, estimates that 10,000 people pledged to strike in New York City alone.
The Washington Post used the Eviction Lab’s scorecard to examine state variations in eviction protections.
Real Change News explained that while America’s affordable housing and homelessness crises have been present long before the coronavirus, the pandemic has highlighted the need for a national housing justice movement that addresses systemic racism.
WBUR aired a segment exploring how many Americans continue to face housing insecurity despite eviction and foreclosure moratoriums that some states have enacted.
USA Today reported on the relationship between COVID-19 and social determinants of health, including poverty and homelessness.
The New York Daily News examined a new coordinated effort between New York City and the MTA to force people experiencing homelessness out of the subway system.
Politico reported that while Republican lawmakers are reluctant to pass another coronavirus relief package, economists from a range of ideological backgrounds are urging Congress to keep spending money to protect the economy.
An article in the Washington Post argued that some federal coronavirus funding should be invested long-term in U.S. infrastructure, including affordable housing, as the coronavirus pandemic has made it more evident that we need increased investment in affordable housing.
NPR reported on the hurdles that families experience homelessness face in home-schooling their children.
State and Local News
A list of local eviction and foreclosure moratoriums from NLIHC is available here.
A list of state and local emergency rental assistance programs from NLIHC is available here.
A list of local shelter closings from NLIHC is available here.
Birmingham shelters and nonprofit organizations, including Firehouse, First Light, and the Salvation Army’s Center of Hope, continue to serve people experiencing homelessness while adjusting to new guidelines due to the pandemic.
A temporary homeless shelter set up at Ketchikan’s recreation center will close nearly two weeks ahead of schedule, drawing criticism from advocates. The initial plan was to keep the emergency shelter open until at least May 15, but Ketchikan’s emergency operations center announced that it would close May 3.
Phoenix displaced part of a large homeless encampment this week.
An editorial in the Los Angeles Times discussed the “appalling” nature of NIMBYism against housing for people experiencing homelessness, especially during the pandemic. Some cities, including Lawndale and Covina, have protested decisions to provide shelter for people experiencing homelessness in local hotels.
San Francisco officials announced that the city has acquired more than 120 recreational vehicles and trailers to shelter people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the 120 trailers, 91 were provided by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and 29 were leased by the city.
The city of Encinitas entered into an agreement on March 20 with a local nonprofit to house up to 80 households experiencing homelessness in motels. When the first batch of vouchers neared the expiration dates and California released a more detailed list of hotel room eligibility, the Encinitas City Council announced that it would only fund voucher extensions for up to 22 households until May 15. Many individuals experiencing homelessness in the city have already returned to their prior living situations or will soon, increasing their vulnerability to the coronavirus.
San Francisco’s largest homeless shelter, Multi-Service Center South, experienced one of the city’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks. The shelter opened again last week after the city shut down the facility to clean, moving residents to private hotel rooms.
A resident of an Oakland homeless encampment has tested positive for COVID-19. Health officials are rushing to test and isolate the individual to prevent an outbreak.
Los Angeles County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Janice Hahn co-authored a motion to expand the county’s efforts to house seniors experiencing homelessness in vacant hotel and motel rooms. They expressed the urgent need to create a sustainable crisis response that addresses the needs of people experiencing homelessness after the acute crisis is over.
California jails and prisons are releasing thousands of people who were incarcerated for non-violent offenses to reduce crowding and stem the spread of COVID-19. Activists and service providers report that many of the people recently released from Bay Area jails are ending up in encampments and shelters, or are sleeping in their cars.
Remezcla spoke with United Way of Los Angeles’ Chief Operating Officer Oscar Cruz to learn more about how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County.
Two people experiencing homelessness who were sheltering at the San Diego Convention Center have tested positive for COVID-19. Both individuals will be kept off-site until it is safe for them to return to the shelter or be released to a permanent housing solution.
The Los Angeles Times examined how the coronavirus may impact California’s plan to address the housing crisis.
City workers conducted a sweep of a large homeless encampment in Denver on April 30. A spokeswoman for the city stated that the sweep was prompted by concern that the area was becoming “increasingly hazardous.”
New Haven is establishing a drop-in resource center for people experiencing homelessness who are in encampments during the coronavirus pandemic.
Fort Lauderdale officials announced that the city is prepared to spend up to $200,000 to provide shelter in hotels for people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. According to City Manager Chris Lagerbloom, a $200,000 federal grant will eventually reimburse the city.
Crossroads Community Ministries, an organization that operates like a post office for people who are experiencing homelessness and don’t have a permanent address, has continued to provide services throughout the pandemic. The executive director spoke with WABE about the challenges that the organization has encountered due to COVID-19.
Three O’ahu service providers shared updates on efforts to help sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 shutdown.
Interfaith Sanctuary, a Boise homeless shelter, spearheaded a new program to house and care for people experiencing homelessness who have tested positive for the coronavirus or are symptomatic. People who have tested positive can stay at Cottonwood Suites hotel, and those awaiting test results can stay at the Boise Rescue Mission.
The coronavirus has exacerbated Chicago’s affordable housing crisis. The city is making efforts to address the crisis, but Chicago’s renters and owners need significant support from the federal government.
The founder of a South Side nonprofit organization, her husband, and volunteers have been driving around Chicago, distributing food, masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer to vulnerable populations including people experiencing homelessness.
Hoosier Action, a grassroots group focused on addressing the needs of Indiana residents, held a virtual meeting to discuss the resources needed to help low-income residents or those without permanent housing during and after the coronavirus pandemic.
The Wells Fargo Foundation has awarded the Institute of Community Alliances a $150,000 grant to provide the first-ever statewide rental assistance program to people experiencing homelessness across the state of Iowa.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU, and the United Way of Southeast Louisiana are among the nearly 40 groups that submitted a letter urging the First City Court and Second City Court judges to continue the eviction moratorium until August 24. The temporary halt on evictions could end May 1 in New Orleans if local courts decide to reopen. Read more here.
Fifty Democratic Senators sent a letter to Governor Larry Hogan urging him to cancel rent and mortgage payments in Maryland for residents and businesses impacted by the pandemic.
Residents of Project PLASE, a shelter facility in Baltimore, held a demonstration to denounce the shelter’s response after staff contracted the coronavirus last month. Residents and their allies accused the facility’s director of failing to institute necessary precautions and demanded blanket testing for all residents. Read the director’s full response here.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announced that the city will move forward with universal testing for all people experiencing homelessness. Boston has secured an additional 1,000 tests, which will allow public health officials to test all clients in the city’s shelter system over the next two weeks.
WBUR interviewed leadership and staff of St. Francis House, a homeless shelter in Boston. For workers in Boston shelters, the need for universal testing is urgent and personal.
Boston Medical Center and other hospitals have opened expanded services for people experiencing homelessness who need time and space to heal and recuperate. More than one in eight of Boston Medical Center’s coronavirus patients are people experiencing homelessness.
On April 20, in response to the ongoing pandemic, Governor Baker signed the eviction and foreclosure moratorium bill (H.4647) – creating some of the strongest protections for tenants and homeowners in the nation. For tenants, the law temporarily halts all stages of most evictions. For homeowners, the law temporarily stops foreclosures and requires lenders to offer mortgage forbearance for those affected by COVID-19. Learn more here.
On April 13, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services announced that the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Command Center and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) are setting up regional isolation and recovery sites located in hotels across the state. Currently there are sites in Pittsfield, Lexington, and Taunton with more coming soon. Learn more here.
Partnerships among city departments, nonprofits, and other organizations aim to protect people experiencing homelessness in Detroit, including a new collaborative effort of restaurants providing food for 400 shelter residents each day.
The Community Housing Network is using funds from a $100,000 grant from United Way for Southeastern Michigan to offer rental assistance and additional services to low-income renters. Housing advocates in Oakland County are calling for additional rental assistance and more affordable housing investments during and after the pandemic.
Detroit shelters are adjusting, rethinking, and expanding daily operations to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic.
The Star Tribune examined the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color in Minnesota. State officials acknowledged that COVID-19 is exacerbating existing racial and economic inequities and that Minnesota is working to expand testing capacity.
The Mississippi Center for Justice filed an emergency motion with the Mississippi Supreme Court to halt evictions until July 27 in an effort to prevent an expected rise in evictions and homelessness due to the pandemic.
Several churches in Springfield are opening their buildings as day shelters for people experiencing homelessness throughout May. Visitors will have access to laundry, showers, and shelter. More than 30 organizations have agreed to establish day shelters across Springfield.
Governor Mark Parson announced that Missouri will receive $24 million in federal funding to support homeowners and renters who have been impacted by the pandemic. The Governor announced via Twitter that the state will receive an additional $9.4 million dollars in ESG funds that can be used to help people experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless.
Missoula will use a motel that the city purchased in late April to provide short-term housing for people experiencing homelessness who need to quarantine or self-isolate. When the crisis is over, the city plans to demolish and redevelop the property into permanent affordable housing.
The Newark Housing Authority is adjusting its public housing wait list to accommodate families who are in need of transitional housing due to loss of employment or homelessness. Families who are currently on the public housing waiting list and wish to apply for COVID-19 preference can visit: www.newarkha.org
As Newark renters face illegal eviction due to the pandemic, pro bono attorneys and advocacy groups worry that many residents are vulnerable to landlord exploitation. Newark is one of three cities in the country to offer pro bono legal representation to low-income renters facing eviction.
The Housing and Community Development Network of Jersey applauded Governor Phil Murphy for announcing new measures and resources for renters and homeowners impacted by COVID-19, including an order allowing renters to use security deposits to cover their rent with a notification of intent to their landlord.
Governor Murphy announced expanded protections for individuals without permanent housing on April 24. Executive Order No. 106 protects access to hotels and motels for individuals without permanent housing and clarifies that municipalities are prohibited from imposing restrictions in response to the coronavirus pandemic on the ability of motels, hotels, guest houses, or private residents to accept any individuals who have no permanent housing.
Vijay Dandapani, president of the Hotel Association of New York City, said that city hotels are ready and willing to house people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. The city cites health and safety concerns as justification for why it has not expanded its current hotel program. Giselle Routhier, policy director for Coalition for the Homeless, an NLIHC state partner, stated that the city’s delay in housing unsheltered residents in hotels is due to a lack of political will.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the state and city will halt subway service between 1 and 5 am each night to disinfect every train every 24 hours. Homeless advocates expressed concern that people experiencing homelessness who had been staying in subway stations will have nowhere to go.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to move as many as 1,000 New Yorkers experiencing homelessness from shelters into hotels every week. As of April 28, 775 New Yorkers experiencing homelessness have tested positive for COVID-19.
Governor Andrew Cuomo referred to the increasing number of people experiencing homelessness staying on New York City subways as “disgusting” and “disrespectful” to essential workers who rely on the subway to get to work.
The Westchester County Department of Social Services reported that it had isolated and monitored 50 COVID-19-positive people experiencing homelessness. The department also said that across Westchester, 75% of its 987 units were filled in operating shelters, drop-in shelters, and emergency housing units.
VA New York Harbor Healthcare System providers are conducting street outreach and shelter visits to ensure at-risk veterans experiencing homelessness have access to health support.
The New York City health department began delivering methadone to homeless shelter residents and discharged hospital patients. Under normal circumstances, home delivery of methadone, a controlled substance, is prohibited. Door-to-door delivery of methadone is intended to stem the spread of COVID-19.
The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO), an NLIHC state partner, held a teleconference call with the Ohio Poverty Law Center and the Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus and Franklin to address the state’s affordable housing crisis. Advocates, including COHHIO executive director Bill Faith, emphasized the urgent need to establish an emergency rental assistance relief program to protect low-income renters from eviction.
The Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio (AHACO) released its April tracking report detailing the impact of COVID-19 on the local affordable housing market. Affordable housing challenges increased in nearly all sectors. AHACO announced its support for including $100 billion in Emergency Solutions Grants in the next federal relief package to provide rental assistance to Ohio tenants.
The Ohio Poverty Law Center released a report last week highlighting the need for Ohio to direct new and existing federal funds to establish a rental assistance program to protect low-income renters, property owners, and financial institutions.
Eleven people experiencing homelessness have tested positive for the coronavirus in the Portland area. The Oregon Health Authority has announced plans to expand testing for people experiencing homelessness. Lane County has calculated how many tests would be needed to evaluate everyone in their shelters. Multnomah County and Washington County have yet to announce similar plans.
The City of Ashland has deployed funding from Community Development Block Grant and FEMA reimbursements to acquire hotel rooms for people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. A local non-profit, Options for Helping Residents of Ashland, was awarded a $100,000 grant to fund the program.
A Street Roots editorial urges Oregon officials not only to move all unhoused Oregon residents into hotels and motels, but also to create a statewide roadmap to solve homelessness.
The Community Action Agency of Delaware County will receive $300,000 to help people who have recently become homelessness find shelter in hotels for up to three months. These individuals may include patients released from medical facilities, people recently released from jail or prisons, survivors of domestic violence, or people living in homeless shelters who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Montgomery County Commissioner Kenneth Lawrence Jr. announced that $30,000 is needed to provide shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness through mid-May. The county is seeking donations to meet this need.
An interactive model from researchers at Boston University School of Social Work, University of Pennsylvania, and UCLA projects that at any given point in time, nearly 800 Rhode Islanders experiencing homelessness will require emergency COVID-19 accommodations.
Homeless shelters in Sioux Falls face additional challenges to serving people experiencing homelessness in the wake of the pandemic. While shelters such as Union Gospel Mission and Bishop Dudley Hospitality House struggle to balance safety and service, they continue their missions to serve people experiencing homelessness.
The Metro Public Health Department is investigating a possible COVID-19 outbreak at the homeless shelters at the Fairgrounds after four individuals tested positive for COVID-19.
A new hotline was established to connect Houston residents experiencing homelessness with free COVID-19 testing provided through Healthcare for the Homeless Houston.
Forty-one residents of the Dallas Life shelter in the Cedars tested positive for COVID-19, and another 150 were likely exposed and are in quarantine. In wake of this outbreak, Dallas shelters are instituting more forceful protective measures.
The University of Texas School of Law created a website to track local and state housing policy responses in Texas. The website is updated frequently and includes policy best practices to increase Texans’ housing stability.
The Houston Health Department is expanding COVID-19 testing to vulnerable communities through partnerships with community organizations and new mobile testing units.
The Texas Supreme Court extended the moratorium on eviction procedures until May 18. Texas Housers, an NLIHC state partner and member of DHRC, expressed concern about the long-term safety of low-income Texans, highlighting the need for emergency rental assistance when the moratorium is lifted and back-rent is due.
The Austin City Council voted to accept $2.35 million from HUD to help people experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless during the coronavirus pandemic. Council members also accepted a $272,065 Coronavirus Relief grant for Housing Opportunities for People with Aids (HOPWA).
Tara Rollins and Francisca Blanc of the Utah Housing Coalition, an NLIHC state partner, highlighted the need for Utah to ensure that all essential workers have access to a safe, affordable home.
The director of Northeast Kingdom Community Action, a social services agency that is now managing four shelter sites across the region, discussed how the pandemic has revealed the extent to which residents are experiencing housing insecurity. Northeast Kingdom Community Action is one of 20 organizations selected by the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition for a portion of its $100,000 grant from NLIHC.
The City of Virginia Beach established a program to prevent evictions for low- and middle-income renters experiencing hardship due to the pandemic. The Virginia Beach Eviction Prevention Assistance program provides eligible renters with one-time payments issued directly to the landlord or property manager.
The D.C. Tenants Union, formed last year, sent a dozen letters to landlords requesting that all or portions of their tenants’ rents be waived in wake of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 3,300 D.C. tenants signed on to a petition to “cancel rents and mortgages.” The group’s demands include cancellation of rent for the duration of the emergency and an additional month, a two-year rent freeze, strengthening the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, and others.
Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser opened a new permanent family homeless shelter in Ward 3. The opening of the new shelter comes as the city is struggling to stop the spread of COVID-19. As of April 28, 162 people residing in homeless shelters across the city had tested positive for COVID-19.
Habitat for Humanity of Washington, DC launched an Emergency Housing Stability Fund to expand affordable homeownership opportunities and protect homeowners. Shelter in place orders have forced the organization to pause volunteer operations on its construction sites. Donations to the fund will allow Habitat DC to finish the 14 homes it has been working on and build nearly 30 more homes.
The West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness has partnered with the United Way of Marion and Taylor Counties to move people experiencing homelessness into homes during the pandemic.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Screening Clients at Entry to Homeless Shelters - April 21, 2020
Infection Prevention and Control Considerations for Alternate Care Sites - Updated April 23, 2020
Housing and Urban Development
Multifamily Q&A for COVID-19 - May 1, 2020
Addressing Tenant Concerns During the COVID-19 National Emergency - April 28, 2020
Notice PIH-2020-08: CARES Act - HCV Program Administrative Fees - Issued on April 29, 2020
Notice PIH-2020-06: IHBG-CARES Implementation Notice - Issued on April 22, 2020
COVID-19 HMIS Resources - Updated April 28, 2020
National Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) Council
COVID-19 Town Hall Series: Testing for COVID-19 in Homeless Shelters - Every Tuesday and Friday at 1pm EDT
American Hotel and Lodging Association
A Way Home America
Policy Research Associates