How do you stay home when you’re homeless?
How do you practice social distancing or self-isolate when you live in close quarters with others?
What if you’re can’t work because of the pandemic—but can’t pay rent without your paycheck?
People experiencing homelessness and facing housing instability are already suffering from the coronavirus pandemic. Many are seniors, people with disabilities and/or people with underlying health conditions, making them high-risk populations for the virus. And the federal legislation passed to date has overlooked their critical needs.
Congress must meet the housing and health needs of people experiencing homelessness and housing instability during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have the chance to provide for these communities: legislators are currently debating a stimulus relief bill that could include funding for people who need housing. But we need to act now. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to pass legislation through the chamber by the end of Monday, March 23.
Email your legislator TODAY to urge them to take action on behalf of Illinois’ most vulnerable communities:
Our Policy Recommendations
Along with allies across the nation, including the National Low Income Housing Coalition, we are calling for Congress to undertake a number of critical actions, including the following:
To support people experiencing homelessness, Congress needs to:
- Allocate at least $15.5 billion in Emergency Solution Grant (ESG) funds to expand access to emergency shelter, increase staffing, and provide necessary supplies.
- Legislation should provide additional resources to Continuums of Care (CoCs) as they work to support homeless service providers and for outreach workers as they support individuals living on the street and in encampments.
To support people facing housing instability as the economic fallout from this crisis grows, Congress needs to help them stay in their homes through:
- Increased funding for emergency rental assistance, legal representation for low-income households facing eviction, and housing counseling programs that support those facing eviction or foreclosure.
- Passing a comprehensive moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, or at least a moratorium for properties owned or ensured by HUD, the VA, or RHS and for properties supported by the Low Income Housing Tax Credit.
- Increased funding for Public Housing Authorities so they can absorb the cost of additional cleaning, staffing, and repairs to ensure the safety and health of their residents.
The long-term impacts of the economic downturn from this pandemic will require significant investments in the creation of affordable housing. While allocating funds, Congress must:
- Prioritize the National Housing Trust Fund, which is used to build and operate rental housing affordable to people with the lowest incomes, including people experiencing homelessness.
- Expand the Housing Choice Voucher program to help low-income families keep more of their incomes for other essentials like food, medicine, education, and transportation.
- Establish a new renter’s tax credit and an emergency assistance fund for families in financial distress, similar to the one proposed in the Eviction Crisis Act.
Now, more than ever, housing is health care. And it is increasingly clear that our individual health is inextricably linked to the health of everyone else in our communities—including those who are facing homelessness or housing instability.