The great housing and workforce divide: We are hopeful that the COVID crisis leads to a broader national recognition of the home as a place of security, safety, and refuge – basic elements of the right to housing, especially for America’s low- and moderate-income essential workers – and also for families who have suddenly lost their jobs. To reach the goal of a universal right to housing will require both a dramatic expansion of guaranteed rental assistance for eligible families and a deeper investment in community-owned, mixed-income social housing distributed equitably across metropolitan regions. In the meantime, please take advantage of this urgent political opening and reach out to your Congresspeople to demand more funding for housing assistance in the next stimulus package!
Flexibility and accountability for PHAs in the COVID crisis: Alongside $12.5 billion earmarked for public housing and housing vouchers under the CARES Act, HUD recently granted a wide range of optional “waivers” of the usual statutory and regulatory requirements to public housing agencies across the country (see the PHA waivers here, and additional HUD program waivers here). Many of these waivers are crucial to preserving the health and housing stability of tenants (and the health of housing authority staff), but they are not automatic, and it will be up to PHA staff and local advocates to ensure that they are implemented and that low-income families continue to receive the housing benefits they need. We recently emphasized these points in a national call for advocates with NHLP, and followed up with a letter to HUD urging stronger accountability provisions in their next funding guidance.
Including racial and socioeconomic diversity in ESSA district plans: Although almost all schools in the U.S. are shut down, local school districts are still planning for the future, and have the opportunity to address persistent patterns of school segregation in their expenditures of federal Title I funds under the Every Student Succeeds Act. School integration will become an increasingly important tool to address a chronic achievement gap that is growing wider as children lose access to in-school education. PRRAC and NCSD’s new joint policy brief explains how school integration can be incorporated in district ESSA plans in a way that supports the state’s ESSA goals.
COVID resources: We’ve compiled a page of COVID-related links that we have found most useful, from organizations working on the front lines to researchers exploring the disproportionate racial impacts of the pandemic, and the relationships between structural racism, segregation, and infection rates.
Improving landlord outreach: HUD has published a new chapter in its Housing Choice Voucher Guidebook on landlord education and outreach strategies for public housing agencies – strategies that will be increasingly important as PHAs implement Small Area FMRs, source of income discrimination laws, and housing mobility programs designed to expand geographic choice for voucher families.