Opinion: COVID-19 Has Made Chicago’s Affordable Housing Crisis Worse, And The Feds Must Step In
Chicago Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara outlines the importance of paying rent in these uncertain times.
COVID-19 has rocked the city’s housing market. Job loss is leading many of our friends and neighbors to miss rent, which in turn makes the buildings they call home vulnerable to foreclosure when landlords are unable to pay their own expenses.
The numbers are stark. Affordable housing providers in Chicago recently surveyed by the Department of Housing reported decreases in rent collection as high as 61 percent over the last few weeks. It is the same sad story across the country. The National Multifamily Housing Council, a multifamily apartment building industry group, polled its membership and found a 60% increase in nonpayment through April 12 compared to the same period a year ago.
Even before the crisis, 63 percent of African American renters and 56 percent of Latino renters in Chicago were cost-burdened, as compared to 42 percent of white renters. Let’s face it: Long before the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed, Chicago was a city with profound racial and economic segregation and insufficient affordable housing.
COVID-19 is not creating inequities, it is simply reflecting those we already had.
The road to recovery has to involve us supporting each other as never before. If you are one of the fortunate who has not lost income during this time, one of the best ways to support those who have is to pay your rent.
Landlords have a better shot at being flexible with those who cannot pay if those who can, do. A wave of evictions or foreclosures is not in anyone’s interest.
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