Over 2,000 organizers, advocates, housing and homelessness service providers, reporters, and legislative staff attended last week’s national call on “Coronavirus, Homelessness, and Housing” hosted by NLIHC and the Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) on March 30. The call featured updates from congressional leaders, including Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), as well as updates from federal, state, and local advocates and service providers working to assist people experiencing homelessness, low-income households, and members of marginalized communities, all of whom are disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. A recording of that call is here. Register for today’s (April 6) 2:30 p.m. ET call featuring Representative Denny Heck (D-WA) and others here.
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Ranking Member Jack Reed spoke on the March 30 call about efforts to increase funding for McKinney-Vento Emergency Solutions Grants in the recently enacted “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act” (see Memo, 3/30). House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters spoke about her efforts to include robust rental assistance in the CARES Act, and the need for additional resources in future coronavirus response packages. Keith Turi, assistant administrator of the Recovery Directorate at FEMA, discussed the agency’s response to COVID-19 as well as the funding available for homelessness and housing services through FEMA’s Public Assistance program.
During a section of the call on local updates, Adi Martínez-Roman, founder of FURIA Inc. and senior policy analyst on Puerto Rico at Oxfam America, talked about conditions in Puerto Rico, where many individuals facing the pandemic are still left unassisted after the deadly earthquakes earlier this year (see Memo, 1/13). Maxwell Ciardullo of the Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center discussed the latest efforts to assist people experiencing homelessness in New Orleans, and the need for additional guidance regarding the eviction moratorium enacted in the CARES Act. Shalonda Rivers, president of the Cordoba Courts Tenants Association in Opa Locka, FL, and NLIHC’s board member, addressed the housing conditions of low-income renters in Miami-Dade County and the need for additional outreach to low-income tenants to ensure they are aware of their rights under the CARES Act.
Maria Foscarinis of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty discussed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations to jurisdictions not to clear homeless encampments unless individual housing units are available, and she noted that homeless communities should have access to basic hygiene measures like working bathrooms and handwashing stations. The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty released a template letter for advocates to use to urge their local communities to stop encampment sweeps. Bobby Watts of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council spoke about state and local efforts to provide people experiencing homelessness with spaces for isolation and quarantine and to convert stadiums and arenas into makeshift hospital wards, and he called for more funding for shelters and street medical outreach. Tony Walters of the National American Indian Housing Council was unfortunately not able to speak on the call but shared in writing a number of concerns for tribal communities, including a recent spike in coronavirus cases in Indian Country and the grave need for resources for tribes given the often overcrowded housing conditions in tribal areas.
Steve Berg from the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) spoke about how the additional funding for the Emergency Solutions Grants program provided in the CARES Act has flexibilities built in to ensure it furthers efforts to provide housing and services to people experiencing homelessness. Shamus Roller from the National Housing Law Project provided information on the specifics of the eviction moratorium enacted through the CARES Act. Finally, Sarah Saadian from NLIHC gave suggestions for next steps, including updated requests for the next coronavirus supplemental and needed regulatory waivers from HUD in order to ensure the quick and equitable distribution of funding.
NLIHC will host national calls on the coronavirus, housing, and homelessness every week on Mondays at 2:30 p.m. ET. Register for today’s call at: https://tinyurl.com/ru73qan
See the agenda for today’s call at: https://bit.ly/3dU5ebV
Watch a recording of the March 30 call at: https://tinyurl.com/rj7qxwf
View presentation slides of the March 30 call at: https://tinyurl.com/tk9hmm7
Stay up-to-date on COVID-19 news and housing resources at: https://bit.ly/3dwCSEm