Federal Action Needed: COVID-19 and Housing/Homelessness

March 17, 2020 -- Hunter McFarland

America is experiencing a public health crisis. COVID-19 affects and will affect our poor and working class community members the most. Rather than prioritizing public money on corporate bailouts,  we can stand united with frontline communities to ensure our collective well-being through this crisis and rewrite the rules to build a healthier and stronger country for generations to come. 

People who are housing-insecure or currently homeless are at a higher risk of being exposed to the virus, becoming ill, and suffering catastrophic health outcomes. Low-income tenants are also at risk if they get ill and/or cannot work (because they're monitoring symptoms, at risk, watching kids, etc.) and therefore can't make their rent. Millions of Americans are housing cost-burdened, over half a million sleep on the streets on a given night, and 40 percent do not have enough cash to cover a $400 emergency. 

We demand federal action to: 

  • Transfer $2,000 in cash to all people in the United States, immediately; 

  • Institute a nationwide rent/mortgage holiday, rent/mortgage freeze, and/or rental assistance;

  • Enact a nationwide eviction/foreclosure moratorium;

  • Ban utility shut-offs and restore service to all households;

  • Provide homes and expanded services for people experiencing homelessness;

  • Provide immediate support for public housing residents; and,

  • Ensure a just, green transition post-pandemic. 

Finally, this crisis illuminates the need for a robust public sector that can guarantee housing as a right: a Homes Guarantee. While we organize for short-term relief for our vulnerable community members, we must not lose focus on the goal that housing must be guaranteed as a public good, not treated as a commodity. We are here for the longer struggle to ensure that everyone has a safe, accessible, sustainable, truly and permanently affordable home.