Due to longstanding structural inequities, Black and Latinx households are twice as likely as white households to be behind on rent and twice as likely to report they’re at risk of eviction. The north Tampa region is home to some 10,500 people, 3 in 4 of whom are Latinx or Black, and nearly 9 in 10 homes in the region are rental properties. The Eviction Defense Project, a University Area Community Development Corporation program, provides information in English and Spanish about renters’ rights and financial aid. It performs a critical role in connecting these communities to the services they need. “We are in the middle of a housing market where there is not enough inventory, so we want as many families as we can to be able to stay in the properties,” said Sarah Combs, director of the University Area Community Development Corporation.
A report from the Urban Institute found that the proportion of female-headed households increased in the US across all racial and ethnic groups over the past 30 years, likely because of higher household incomes and the increase in married women as household heads. Asian American women have made significant gains in homeownership and have the smallest homeownership gender gap of all women, at 2 percent. However, the study’s authors are cautious about how the pandemic has affected these gains. “COVID-19 has created a disproportionate harm on females, especially single females with children who are working in lower-income industries,” said Jung Choi, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute.
Entry-level, starter homes are becoming harder to find. In 1982, 40 percent of the country’s newly constructed houses were entry-level modest homes, but by 2019, the annual share had fallen to around 7 percent. The high costs of building materials, labor costs, and zoning regulations that discourage construction all contribute to the lack of entry-level housing. With many people looking for housing near jobs and other opportunities, rising land costs pose another barrier for developing such housing. When land is expensive, it’s harder for builders to turn a profit on smaller homes, so they focus on building larger luxury homes that are out of reach for many families.
In 2020, wildfires burned about 17,700 structures in the US. Wildfire damage increases every year and contributes to housing shortages across the country. During the pandemic, states like California and Oregon invested state and federal emergency funds to convert hotels into permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness. States most affected by extreme weather are reworking this same model to house residents who have lost their homes to wildfires, and unhoused people living in fire-prone areas. “In one single investment, you can add emergency shelter and also address the root cause of long-term lack of affordable housing,” says Megan Loeb, program officer at Oregon Community Foundation.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) released on August 31 a new episode of “Clyburn Chronicles,” the congressman’s podcast, featuring NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel discussing how the affordable housing crisis has been shaped by racial disparities and the COVID-19 pandemic.
House Financial Services Committee (HFSC) Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) announced on August 31 several hearings for the month of September. The schedule includes a full committee hearing on the Treasury Department’s Emergency Rental Assistance program, during which NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel will testify, and a full committee hearing on the pandemic response from Treasury and the Federal Reserve.
The White House announced steps to expand the affordable housing supply by 100,000 units for homeowners and renters over the next three years. These steps will create, preserve, and sell units to homeowners and non-profit organizations, with an emphasis on lower- and middle-income families. The White House’s plan will be a collaborative effort between HUD, the Department of Treasury, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), and the Government-Sponsored Enterprises (Enterprises) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
FEMA announced major reforms to address long-standing barriers that have prevented the lowest-income and most marginalized disaster survivors from receiving the assistance they need to recover. The reforms were developed and advanced by NLIHC’s Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DRHC) and its partners in impacted communities and championed by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Adriano Espaillat (D-NY). These reforms are a major victory for disaster survivors, advocates, and the DHRC.
U.S. Department of the Treasury guidance encourages the use of categorical eligibility to verify income and reduce barriers to accessing emergency rental assistance. In accordance with this guidance, the Philadelphia Emergency Rental Assistance program, PHL RentAssist, which is administered by the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation (PHDC), is using administrative data matching to make applications more accessible and easier to process.