Now more than ever, it is clear that housing is health care. Those experiencing homelessness in America are at extreme risk during the pandemic. Many are seniors, have disabilities and/or underlying medical conditions, live in crowded shelters or unsanitary conditions, and lack the ability to quarantine, isolate, and recover. The lowest-income, severely housing cost-burdened renters - many of whom also are seniors and/or people with disabilities/health conditions and people in the low-wage workforce - are at high risk of COVID-19 complications as well as the threat of eviction and homelessness due to loss of income. The spread of COVID-19 among these populations threatens their health and safety - and that of us all.
The resources and provisions in the recently passed “CARES Act” were an important first step in addressing some of the urgent needs of people experiencing homelessness and those on the brink of being homeless. But much more is needed, including emergency rental assistance for the lowest-income renter households who are one missed rent payment from eviction and homelessness.
NLIHC's analysisshows that nearly 10 million extremely low- and very low-income renters were severely housing cost-burdened - spending more than half of their limited incomes on their housing - before the start of the COVID-19 outbreak and the economic havoc it wrought. Extrapolating from the country's last recession, we estimate this number will increase by at least 1.5 million. Before the pandemic, only one in four U.S. families that qualify for federal housing assistance received it due to a lack of funding, and many of these families get their incomes from low-wage jobs in retail and services that are now being cut.
While the expanded unemployment insurance compensation recently passed in the CARES Act will be vital for many renters losing their jobs, NLIHC's analysis shows that, on its own, such insurance will be insufficient to keep the lowest-income families stably housed during the crisis and ongoing economic downturn; emergency rental assistance for these households is needed. NLIHC's analysis estimates the cost to provide such assistance to all extremely and very low-income severely housing-cost-burdened renter households would be $76.1 billion over the next twelve months. Providing rental assistance to all extremely and very low-income housing-cost-burdened renter households (those spending more than 30% of their incomes on housing) would cost approximately $99.5 billion.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that ensures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes.
Contact Us: National Low Income Housing Coalition 1000 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 500, Washington DC 20005 202-662-1530 x247