The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance held a remote hearing, "The Rent Is Still Due: America’s Renters, COVID-19, and an Unprecedented Eviction Crisis,” on June 10. Speakers included Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center Executive Director Cashauna Hill, Up for Growth Executive Director Mike Kingsella, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Visiting Senior Fellow Ann Oliva, and Brookings Institution Fellow Jenny Schuetz. Presenters offered testimony and answered questions about the current state of the rental market and solutions to the looming eviction crisis. Each witness indicated that Congress must act quickly to allocate additional aid for renters in order to prevent a surge in evictions and homelessness.
In her opening remarks, Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) acknowledged that the current public health crisis is exacerbating a rental crisis that existed long before the pandemic. Cashauna Hill then emphasized the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black households: “In a state where 32% of the population is Black, African Americans make up 54% of COVID-19 deaths. New Orleans’ pre-COVID eviction rate of 5.2% was double the national average and in some majority-Black neighborhoods, the eviction rate was as high as 10.4%...without additional federal assistance, we expect the reopening of eviction courts to only deepen this disparity.”
Ann Oliva described the stark racial disparities in COVID-19 infection and death rates, stating that “early state and local data [show] that Black and Hispanic people are dying of complications from COVID-19 at higher rates than white people. The Indian Health Service also reports concerns due to lack of testing and outbreaks during the pandemic’s early stages within the Navajo Nation…these health disparities exist because people of color have experienced years of economic hardship, receive lower-quality health care, and have been segregated into neighborhoods that lack access to nutritious food, green space for exercise, clean air, and jobs that pay enough for families to have the money or time for recreational outlets such as belonging to a gym.” She emphasized the need for short-, medium-, and long-term rental assistance options for communities to build a comprehensive response to urgent housing needs in the wake of COVID-19.
Representative Denny Heck (D-WA) spoke about the importance of emergency rental assistance and submitted into the Congressional Record a sign-on letter spearheaded by the NLIHC. The letter is signed by 640 organizations that support and urge enactment of the “Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act,” H.R.6820/S.3685.
Watch the full hearing at: https://tinyurl.com/y776dcc7
Read written testimony at: https://tinyurl.com/ycu36too