The NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) launched on March 10 a new resource to guide the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic related to housing for those most in need. The DHRC is comprised of more than 850 national, state, and local organizations working to ensure complete and equitable housing recovery for people with the lowest incomes, who are often hit hardest by disasters and have the fewest resources to recover. It is crucial that any comprehensive response to the pandemic include resources to help ensure the safety and well-being of low-income households and people experiencing homelessness, who are at particularly high risk during the coronavirus pandemic.
The DHRC developed the list of recommendations for members of Congress to include in any legislative spending package aimed at addressing the impact of coronavirus on public health and the economy. These recommendations will be reviewed, refined, and updated regularly as the coronavirus pandemic evolves to ensure they reflect the needs and priorities of the lowest-income households and people experiencing homelessness. Currently, the recommendations call for significant additional resources for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants and for the implementation of the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) to provide housing and shelter for people experiencing homelessness. McKinney-Vento funds can be used by local communities to provide shelter, create separate spaces for individuals with mild respiratory symptoms, and minimize the number of people living in homeless encampments. DHAP can quickly move people into affordable homes, where they can more easily keep themselves and their neighbors healthy.
The recommendations also include creating an emergency assistance fund to help prevent evictions by providing short-term financial assistance and housing stabilization services. For families living in poverty, unreimbursed medical bills and temporary declines in income – which can be caused by taking time off of work to recover from an illness or care for a sick loved one – can pose a significant challenge to affording basic necessities like medicine, food, and rent. An emergency assistance fund, like the one proposed by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Rob Portman (R-OH) in the “Eviction Crisis Act” (S.3030; see Memo, 12/16/19), would help prevent housing instability and homelessness as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Access to legal services, foreclosure and eviction crisis counseling, and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during and immediately after the crisis should also be implemented to ensuring housing stability during the pandemic.
NLIHC launched a webpage detailing national and local responses to the coronavirus, as well as federal resources available to help communities prepare and respond to outbreaks. The DHRC is holding a national call on coronavirus, housing and homelessness to share local, state, and federal updates and plan for advocacy ahead. Speakers will include experts from impacted areas, city and federal departments, and Capitol Hill. The call will take place today, March 16, at 2:30 p.m. ET. You can register for the call here.
Register for the call on coronavirus, housing and homelessness at: https://bit.ly/39GZAHD
Read DHRC’s recommendations to Congress at: https://bit.ly/38KfwYd
Visit NLIHC’s webpage on national and local responses to the coronavirus pandemic at: https://bit.ly/2Q9mRKx