As temporary legislation put in place by states to protect renters as a result of COVID-19/Coronavirus begin to expire, it’s time for family and friends to start checking in with one another about housing.
In March and April, half of all renters reported having difficulty paying rent and a heightened level of food insecurity. COVID-19 protections to freeze evictions vary from state-to-state and are particularly relevant to federally assisted properties, although not exclusively. Additional unemployment benefits have enabled those who have lost their jobs to continue paying rent even in the absence of a paycheck, however, extra federal unemployment benefits will likely expire at the end of July. These two factors leave many renters vulnerable.
The potential for a large-scale uptick in evictions in the fall may lead to homelessness to coincide with flu season and an anticipated surge of COVID-19 infection, in effect creating a perfect storm threatening to turn a “catastrophe into an apocalypse."
So how do we avert a potential catastrophe rather than accept the worst case as an inevitability or a foregone conclusion? By breaking down large, complex problems into smaller, more manageable solutions.
Here are a few tips on where to start if you know someone who is renting and facing potential eviction during COVID-19:
- Check-in with them. Asking for help is hard. Step one is to reach out and make sure that their housing remains secure. If you’re not in a position to offer financial assistance, don’t let that stop you. By proactively assessing a problem, you can help identify the solution(s) together, rather than be the solution yourself.
- Create a judgment-free zone. Let them know you understand that this set of circumstances was beyond anything they could have planned for and that your only intention is to help them to make a plan. There is no judgment.
- Call in “The Village." Being proactive is a huge step in the right direction. Mountains are movable when a village appears. Create a Give InKind page to coordinate effective support and allow others to help in the a way that is meaningful to them too.
Find Additional Resources
- Identify reputable credit and debt relief advisors. The first step is the hardest one, but earlier intervention always yields the greatest possibility of success. Organizations such as Credit.org are able to help develop a plan based upon individual circumstances. These organizations are aware of the particular impact of COVID-19 and able to offer a holistic approach.
- Try to have conversations with loved ones that invite them to share concerns beyond housing. These can include (but are not limited to) elder justice, domestic abuse, etc. There are legal services offered in connection with COVID-19 that are multi-faceted and are equipped to deal with varying levels of needs. For more information on accessing reputable pro bono legal services in COVID-19, click here.
- Need help with a legal question but can’t afford a lawyer? Contact your State Bar Association. You can ask a question in this virtual pro bono clinic here run by the American Bar Association.
Remember that there is a consensus that effective solutions to housing issues serve the greater good. Holistic solutions are necessary, but they begin in smaller units such as families and communities – and bubble up. We are our best selves when we reach for each other in moments of crisis.
Give InKind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We have an affiliate relationship with many of the advertisers on our site, and may receive a commission from any products purchased from links in this article. See Terms & Conditions.