“To be able to understand the eviction crisis that we’re facing today, we have to recognize where we were before Covid-19 came to our country –and that was in the midst of a severe affordable housing crisis,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC).
“When people are struggling to afford their rent, when they’re facing eviction, or in worst cases, when they’re homeless, their health suffers,” explained Yentel.
“There’s real, there’s real harm done, to individual people, to families, to kids to communities, and really to our whole country, when we allow homelessness and housing poverty to persist.”
Although the order should help distressed renters in the short term, Yentel warned it can be a double-edged sword, enabling people to get further into debt.
“They are accruing more debt over this period of Covid-19 than they can pay off in their lifetime.”
“There are long-term consequences that a renter faces, even from one eviction filing on their record. It can make it much more difficult for them to find decent, adequate and affordable housing in the future,” said Yentel.
“Members of Congress in their district offices have people who are responsible for knowing all of the local programs that might be able to help.”
For those experiencing homelessness
Long before Covid-19, the United States was facing a homeless crisis.
“Homelessness is the worst manifestation of inequality,” said Marybeth Shinn, a professor at Vanderbilt University’s Department of Human and Organizational Development.
Shinn described homelessness as a lagging indicator of the economic crisis induced by the pandemic.
“The first thing you do is you go double up with somebody else; you move in with your sister, with your mother, your friends, and it’s kind of down the line that people become literally homeless,” she said.
Although we haven’t seen a massive influx of those experiencing homelessness yet, Shinn says the biggest concern for those experiencing homelessness is reduced shelter space due to Covid-19 safety measures and lack of sanitation or hygiene methods.
If you are at risk of being homeless or in need of transitional housing, Shinn suggests first contacting a Continuum of Care resource provider so they can work with you on a long-term plan and connect you with resources for success.