With rising coronavirus cases forcing states and businesses to scale back reopening plans, jobs and the prospect of meeting expenses like rent remain a daunting task.
When it comes to ensuring that vulnerable populations have access to affordable housing, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson said one of the things the president asked the Opportunity and Revitalization Council to do is "refocus some energy on those communities that were hardest hit by COVID."
At the end of the month, federal eviction protections will expire, potentially putting families on the streets. Some local protections remain in place, but that still leaves millions of Americans without a safety net. The Urban Institute recently found that about 20 percent of all renter households had at least one household member lose a job between February and April of this year. This struggle to pay rent has fueled an already-existing eviction crisis.
Like many economic concerns facing the country, the impact is being felt greater among Black communities. According to the ACLU, Black women have had evictions filed against them by landlords at double the rate of white renters in 17 of 36 states, even before the pandemic.
Carson admitted these communities are dealing with a number of issues, and the pandemic has only exacerbated their financial hardship. However, the housing secretary pointed to education as the single most important thing when it comes to lifting people out of poverty and homelessness.
"I always say you can take anybody from any circumstance, no matter how desperate it is, and you give them a good education and they will become successful in our society," Carson stated. "And we really need to put a lot more emphasis on school of choice and making those options available to people."
Carson’s predecessor doesn’t entirely agree. In a separate interview with Cheddar on Monday, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro said he agreed with the current secretary that education is clearly important, but putting the onus on that issue gives a pass to the federal government's responsibility to invest in housing.
With the CARES Act’s eviction protections set to expire, HUD has issued an Eviction Prevention And Stability Toolkit to help provide renters and landlords with available resources.