The housing situation for millions of Americans was already precarious before the pandemic, with many paying large percentages of their monthly incomes toward rent and without enough savings to cover a few hundred dollars in emergency expenses. Millions have lost their jobs during the pandemic and a study released earlier this week found 5.4 million also lost health insurance, which is generally provided by employers. The enhanced unemployment checks of $600 per week from the federal government are set to expire at the end of July — although payments have been delayed in many states — as the patchwork system of eviction moratoriums begins to lift in some areas where they’re still in place.
As the number of positive tests, hospitalizations and deaths resulting from COVID-19 continue to rise in many areas of the country, millions of Americans, without jobs or health insurance, are in danger of being forced out of their homes during a pandemic. Moving in with family or friends would likely mean overcrowding, a risk for spreading the coronavirus. Other families may be living on the streets during triple-digit heat and hurricane season and then, should the crisis continue, freezing winters. (If there is a prolonged recession, an increase in homelessness is nearly certain to follow.) If public schools remain closed, low-income students displaced from their homes would face difficulties participating in online learning and fall further behind their more economically secure peers.