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    COVID-19 Housing Policy Response

    Homelessness Policy Research Institute

    Year: 2020

    In the first few months of 2020, COVID-19 has led to unprecedented loss of life and economic shutdowns in the United States and around the world. More than 36 million Americans have lost their jobs and have filed for unemployment (Cohen & Hsu, 2020). The economic impacts of the virus are disproportionately felt by low-income families and people of color. These groups are more likely to work in industries that are a direct risk for negative economic impact, or job loss (UC Berkeley Labor Center, 2020). Additionally, low-income Americans and people of color are more likely to be rent-burdened (paying more than 30% of their monthly income towards rent) (Currier and Pew Charitable Trusts, 2018). When creating policy responses to the COVID-19 emergency, policymakers must keep these inequities in mind and take into account how the economic impacts of the pandemic and unintended consequences of response measures may drive more people into homelessness.

    This brief outlines the current housing and relief measures being enacted at the federal, state, county, and city levels along with gaps in those policies and lessons from the 2008 financial crisis. It concludes by making recommendations for modifying existing policies and providing additional relief to stabilize the housing insecure and ensure that the COVID-19 policy response does not leave behind those currently at risk of falling into homelessness.

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