The impacts of the coronavirus have disproportionately impacted black Americans – higher rates of death, higher rates of unemployment – and now another drastic consequence is spreading: homelessness.
The hardest hit are those Black Americans who had low incomes and little savings even before the pandemic, and who were also more likely to work in sectors where job losses have been particularly severe.
The United States is facing a wave of housing evictions as government relief payments and legal protections run out for millions of out-of-work Americans who have little financial cushion and few choices when looking for new housing.
Federal and state eviction moratoriums were based on COVID-19 timetables that didn’t consider that the pandemic could persist through the fall and beyond. Some of the moratoriums have already expired and others are scheduled to expire at the end of this month. While the federal moratorium was a help to many, the CARES Act did not address how landlords could respond to missed payments after the moratorium ends on July 24th. As eviction moratoriums end, states are scrambling to offer relief to those in need.
In addition, COVID-19 is putting new strain on homeless services systems which did not have enough resources to fully meet the needs of everyone experiencing homelessness even before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
How can we displace people from their homes at the same time that we are encouraging people to stay at home to stop the spread of the coronavirus? Stay-at-home orders are impossible to follow when you do not have a home.
WHAT CAN WE DO AS INDIVIDUALS? PLENTY!
What programs does your state have to prevent evictions?
To see the level of your state’s pandemic responses related to eviction and housing, click here:
To learn more about the COVID-19 moratoria in your state, click this link:
a. Once you know what programs exist (or don't) in your state, lobby your state and local officials to:
- extend the moratoriums
- provide rent assistance to those on the verge of homelessness
- provide incentives and protection to landlords
- improve the availability of safe shelters that comply with CDC guidelines
b. Lobby your Senators and Representatives to support Senate and House bills that provide needed resources to individuals and homeless service centers in the fight against homelessness.
Information about the various bills currently being considered can be found at The National Alliance to End Homelessness:
The Resident Relief Initiative is a fundraising effort to combat the national housing crisis that is and will result from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Information about the organization can be found at:
For more information about the Resident Relief Initiative and to pledge support, please visit:
To see the impact of the Initiative on the life of one man, click here to watch Steven’s story:
And consider donating money, food, linens and other resources to your area homeless shelters.
If you have available space or know of anyone who does, and can invite a homeless individual or family in a way that meets CDC guidelines for safety, reach out to someone in need and offer your available space. This will also help area shelters who are struggling to meet the rising demands on their resources.
As an alternative, offer space to store the belongings of evictees rather than having them left out on the curb for anyone to claim.
Take a moment to imagine how you would feel if you and your family had no place to live. Imagine if you had to take to living in your car. What would that feel like to you? Imagine the anguish you would experience if you were on the verge of homelessness and the relief you would feel if someone helped you to avoid living on the street or in a crowded shelter.
These are difficult time for all of us. But increased homelessness, especially among Black Americans, will only increase the spread of this horrible virus. We can all take steps to help eradicate the spread of this disease by helping to reduce homelessness. I hope you will help.