Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Michelle D. Layser (Illinois), Edward De Barbieri (Albany), Andrew Greenlee (Illinois), Tracy Kaye (Seton Hall) & Blaine Saito (Northeastern), Mitigating Housing Instability During a Pandemic:
Housing instability threatens to impair the United States’ policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic by undermining public health strategies such as social distancing. Yet, mitigation of housing instability has not been the focus of early emergency legislation, including the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which has focused on providing cash support to individuals and businesses. Although many of these laws have the potential to reduce housing instability, this Article argues that they face barriers to effective implementation akin to those that hindered similar interventions during the Great Recession. These barriers—which include administrative hurdles, reliance on voluntary participation, resource constraints, and political pushback—may prevent these interventions from effectively mitigating housing instability. For this reason, additional rental assistance and mortgage payment assistance may be necessary to prevent the loss of housing that will ultimately exacerbate the public health crisis.
We also recommend a new civil right to counsel in eviction cases and targeted place-based interventions to promote affordable housing development where it is needed most.