COVID-19 Fair Housing Resources
By Nick Adjami
June 22, 2020
The coronavirus has had a catastrophic impact since it began rapidly spreading earlier this year. The U.S. has confirmed over two million cases of COVID-19 and over 100,000 people have died of the disease. The economic impact has also been devastating. Over 41 million people have filed for unemployment, and experts worry that even as job losses slow, the pandemic may stunt recovery for decades to come. As a result, millions of Americans have found themselves in a precarious situation. They need a safe home in which to stay healthy and prevent the spread of the virus, but face increasingly unaffordable rent and mortgage payments.
In recognition of this crisis and to help renters defend their rights, the Equal Rights Center has launched a series of educational resources addressing some of the most relevant fair housing concerns.
Race, color, and national origin discrimination
Stereotypes about the coronavirus have led to an uptick in verbal and physical attacks against Asian Americans. An uptick in anti-Asian housing discrimination may follow. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin. Prohibited activities include (but are not limited to) harassment, terminating a lease, and refusing to rent to someone based on one or more of these traits.
Fair housing organizations have documented an increase in sexual harassment complaints related to housing since the beginning of the pandemic. Some landlords have attempted to pressure tenants struggling to afford rent into sex-for-rent schemes. Others have solicited sex in exchange for making repairs. Sexual harassment is prohibited by the Fair Housing Act, as is retaliating against someone for reporting it.
The CARES Act prohibits landlords from evicting renters living in federally assisted housing or properties financed by federally-backed mortgages. That covers roughly one in four rental units. Many states and municipalities have issued additional protections. If you find yourself facing eviction you may be protected.
If you believe you are facing unlawful eviction or may have experienced discrimination in housing, you can contact the Equal Rights Center. To report your experience, please call 202-234-3062 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.