Housing Justice Movement Letter to Congress
COVID-19 Response Needs
Dear US Congress Members:
The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare that no matter what we look like, where we live, or what's in our wallets, our health and security depend on the health and security of all of our neighbors. We are all being told to “socially distance” and “stay home” in order to avoid a systemic public health disaster, but for millions of families in every community in this country, that isn’t an option.
Right now more than 500,000 people in the United States are homeless, and millions more are one missed paycheck away from losing their homes. This puts every single person in this country at risk. All of us need a safe and secure home both to weather this immediate crisis, and to build stable communities once this storm has passed. Now more than ever, this virus has shown us that we are dependent on each other and we must pull together to make sure that everyone has the shelter they need for families and communities to thrive. Only by standing united can we ensure our own wellbeing through this outbreak and rewrite the rules to ensure better health for us all for generations to come.
The legislation passed by Congress this week utterly failed to address people's need for housing. This must be fixed if we have any hope of slowing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Housing security is essential as our nation faces the coronavirus pandemic. We cannot afford to waste our money and resources bailing out corporations when our communities are filled with people struggling.
We represent community groups across America whose members are renters, tenants, unhoused, and homeowners who are facing intense financial pressure as this pandemic unfolds. Without housing, our families, neighbors, and members will not be able to follow any recommendations from the CDC or our local governments to slow the spread of COVID 19.
We are calling on Congress to take three immediate actions for housing security during this time of crisis:
A national moratorium on evictions. This should include a moratorium on all foreclosures, evictions of both public and private housing, sweeps of houseless people, and utility shutoffs, and restore utility service for all households.
A national mortgage and rent holiday. This should cover public and private properties by passing a law reducing rents and mortgage payments to zero for the duration of the crisis, including any fees or interest payments.
A national $200 billion dollar Housing Security Fund. This fund should be used to provide: at least $120 billion for rent and mortgage payment assistance for anyone affected by the pandemic; adequate funding for homes and expanded services for people experiencing homelessness; and assistance to families to secure safe housing in this crisis and its aftermath, with payment support to cover applications, first month’s rent, and security deposits.
In addition, the federal government must provide immediate cash payments to all people in the United States, immediately, and ensure a just, green transition post-pandemic. See the full set of demands for federal action here.
These actions for housing security are essential in our fight to slow the spread of COVID-19. This pandemic has the potential to exponentially increase inequality in America, and if it does it will also worsen the pandemic itself. We need immediate and bold federal action now to ensure all have safe and secure housing through this crisis.
Alliance for Housing Justice
Arkansas Community Organizations
Arkansas Renters United
Center for Popular Democracy Action
Lift the Ban Coalition
Make the Road Nevada
Make the Road New York
New Florida Majority
Partnership for Working Families
Public Advocates Inc.
Right to the City Alliance
SPACEs In Action
Stand Up Nashville
United for a New Economy (Colorado)