Stabilizing renters—which, in turn, supports landlords and rental properties—is critical. But policymakers can leverage this opportunity to implement long-term solutions that reduce the number of renters at risk and ensure the housing market is better equipped for another unexpected crisis.
“A lot of the action so far has been short term. It could all terminate in several months even though we could still be in the midst of a recession,” said Douglas Rice, senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “We’re facing a cliff several months down the pike that needs to be addressed.”
“If we’re not taking care of folks on both ends, we’ll fail. There needs to be balance, because the future is shared.”
Monique King-Viehland, director of state and local housing policy at the Urban Institute
To offer more long-term relief, federal policymakers can designate housing as an entitlement and fully fund universal rental assistance to help all low-income renters at risk.
State and local policymakers can supplement those federal efforts by implementing a more modest form of rental assistance, possibly through a no-interest loan or through the ESG, for people who may not experience as severe an income loss but who are still burdened by their housing costs.
“There are going to be crises after this. Ultimately, we’re going to have to stand up something permanent,” said Mike Koprowski, national campaign director at the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Policymakers at all levels of government can also ensure that, when development ramps up again, affordable housing production is prioritized. Aaron Gornstein, president and CEO of Preservation of Affordable Housing, said an increase in subsidies like those through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and the HOME Investment Partnerships program could help encourage investors to focus on affordable housing construction and help meet the growing demand for affordable units.
“Once we get through this initial crisis, the need for affordable housing is going to be even greater,” Gornstein said. “There may be new opportunities to preserve and produce more affordable housing with additional resources and greater public attention. This will not only help to provide safe, healthy, and affordable homes for those who need them, but it can provide a powerful stimulus to our economy, which is likely to be in a recession.”