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 situationThey 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 

Graphic with text that reads, "Times are tough. Don't let your landlord make them tougher. Discrimination against Asian Americans is on the rise due to stereotypes about COVID-19. Housing discrimination, including harassment and termination of a lease, on the basis of race, color, or national origin is illegal. If you believe you are facing unlawful discrimination, the Equal Rights Center may be able to help. 202-234-3062, info@equalrightscenter.org, equalrightscenter.org."  Graphic with text that reads, "Times are tough. Don't let a leasing agent or landlord make them tougher. Discrimination against Asian Americans is on the rise due to stereotypes about COVID-19. Housing discrimination, including refusal to rent to someone, on the basis of race, color, or national origin is illegal. If you believe you are facing unlawful discrimination, the Equal Rights Center may be able to help. 202-234-3062, info@equalrightscenter.org, equalrightscenter.org."

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.  

Sexual harassment 

Graphic with text that reads, "Times are tough. Don't let your landlord make them tougher. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual harassment. During this COVID crisis, we have heard concerning reports of landlords soliciting sex from tenants who can’t pay rent. If you believe you are facing unlawful discrimination, the Equal Rights Center may be able to help. 202-234-3062, info@equalrightscenter.org, equalrightscenter.org."  Graphic with text that reads, "Times are tough. Don't let your landlord make them tougher. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual harassment. During this COVID crisis, we have heard concerning reports of landlords soliciting sex in exchange for making repairs. If you believe you are facing unlawful discrimination, the Equal Rights Center may be able to help. 202-234-3062, info@equalrightscenter.org, equalrightscenter.org."

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. 

Eviction

Graphic with text that reads, "Times are tough. Don't let your landlord make them tougher. In DC, Maryland, and Virginia, landlords cannot evict tenants for failure to pay rent due to the COVID-19 crisis. Some landlords are trying to force out tenants by other means, such as threatening them or turning off their utilities. If you believe you are facing unlawful eviction, the Equal Rights Center may be able to help. 202-234-3062, info@equalrightscenter.org, equalrightscenter.org."  Graphic with text that reads, "Times are tough. Don't let your landlord make them tougher. The CARES Act prohibits landlords from evicting tenants for non-payment of rent or other fees if they have a federally-backed mortgage. Go to https://nlihc.org/federal-moratoriums to see if your property qualifies. There may be local mandates protecting you as well. If you believe you are facing unlawful eviction, the Equal Rights Center may be able to help. 202-234-3062, info@equalrightscenter.org, equalrightscenter.org."

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 info@equalrightscenter.org. 

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