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The rent is still due. On May 1st, I wrote an open letter to our community about the impending housing crisis, particularly for low-income renters and people of color. Over the past two months, the situation has only worsened. Area nonprofit housing providers are indicating their collections are down on average 30-40%, with some having as many as 80% of their low-income tenants struggling to pay rent. Eviction moratoriums across the region have expired, resulting in deluged dockets and crowded courts. The initial wave of individual resources from the federal government has receded. And, yet, $50 Billion in rent is still owed again this month.
While we are fortunate that housing providers, owners, tenants, legal assistance providers, lenders, the philanthropic community, and others have come together to attempt to address the pending tsunami of evictions and foreclosures, it is imperative that we continue to focus our attention, and any available public funding, to mitigate the impacts of this crisis. As we have seen the numbers of those infected by COVID-19 continue to rise, we know that this pandemic is far from over. We need our local, state, and federal officials to take decisive action now to protect our economy and communities, particularly our communities of color and low-income residents. We must acknowledge that an equitable society begins with the most basic of needs - people having access to safe, quality, affordable housing. The rent is still due – are we going to ignore the bill?
The Rent Is Due
Many homeowners and renters were struggling to make their payments before anyone had heard of COVID-19. In our region, 1 in 3 families are considered “housing cost-burdened” with that impacting half of very low-income families. The current health crisis has only exacerbated the problem.