The National Low Income Housing Coalition recently released its 2020 Out of Reach report that highlights the high cost of housing throughout the United States. With the current pandemic wreaking havoc on the economy, access to safe and healthy housing has become even more difficult in a time when stable housing is vital.
According to the report, early research and reporting on COVID-19 shows people of color face greater mortality risks from the pandemic. Pre-existing structural injustices, including unequal access to healthcare, greater exposure through low-wage and frontline jobs, and limited housing options contribute to these risks.
Prior to the pandemic, more than 7.7 million extremely low-income renters were spending more than half of their limited incomes on housing costs, sacrificing other necessities to do so, including health care and food costs. Millions of renters were one financial shock away from housing instability, and for many the pandemic and economic fallout is that shock.
Nearly 28 million new jobless claims were filed in just the first six weeks of widespread shutdowns. The unemployment rate was 14.7 percent in April, the highest its been since tracking began in 1948. It fell slightly in May to 13.3 percent but it did not improve among Black Americans at 16.8 percent or among Asian Americans at 15 percent. The unemployment rate for Latino Americans is even higher at 17.6 percent.
As millions of households are now dealing with declines in wages, many more renters will struggle to afford their rents. To help combat the increasing risk of housing instability, INHS has developed its COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program that is designed to help renters with up to three months of rent relief across four counties, including Schuyler, Seneca, Tioga, and Tompkins Counties.
While we understand this is not a solution, it is our way of showing our commitment to our mission of expanding housing opportunities to the communities we serve.