Disparate impacts of Covid-19 on minority groups are linked to much higher proportion who must live in overcrowded and/or substandard housing

In the United States, the Covid-19 pandemic has been exceptionally disruptive for the Black, Indigenous, and Hispanic communities. For example, as of July:

  • Black people were more than twice as likely to die from Covid-19 as White people.
  • Indigenous people accounted for more than 56 percent of Covid deaths in New Mexico (home to part of the Navajo Nation), although indigenous people were only 8.8 percent of the state’s population.
  • Hispanic Americans between the ages of 40 and 59 had been infected at a rate five times greater than White people in the same age group, nationwide.

Actually, the available statistics likely understate the disparate impacts of Covid substantially, because many states are inadequately reporting demographic data for Covid-related cases and deaths among minority group members. 

An important factor in Covid's disparate impacts is that a much higher proportion of minority group members have to live in overcrowded and/or substandard housing. That problem compounds other disparate impacts of the pandemic--such as the facts that people of color are more likely to: (1) have “essential” jobs in crowded workplaces; (2) rely on crowded public transportation; and (3) suffer from pre-existing health conditions. Studies have linked many of those pre-existing conditions to substandard and overcrowded housing.

EHI law clerk Jesse Brennan has documented the disparate racial impacts of Covid-19, and the relationship of those disparate impacts to America’s housing problems. To access that memorandum, please click on RACE, COVID-19, AND HOUSING.

The disproportionate housing problems of minority group members are largely the result of economically exclusionary housing practices. Those practices (exclusionary zoning and other, overly-restrictive, housing-related practices) prevent the building or preservation of sufficient amounts of housing affordable to low- and moderate-income Americans—especially in and near high-opportunity communities. 

Also, by pushing housing prices up, those policies prevent many low- and moderate-income families with children from accessing adequate housing units. For more on the health-related effects of exclusionary housing practices, please click on CHILDREN'S DEVELOPMENT & XHPs.  

The 120-day federal CARES Act eviction moratorium lapsed on July 25, raising concerns about a possibly massive number of eviction actions being pursued in the many states that that have no statewide eviction moratorium of their own. Tens of millions of newly-unemployed American renters and homeowners, along with their families—and tens of millions of other Americans who lacked housing they could afford, even before the Covid-19 pandemic—likely will be unable to afford full rent and mortgage payments for a long time after the pandemic ends.

The CARES Act moratorium covered about 28 percent of America’s 43 million renters. The federal foreclosure moratorium, which ended on June 30, covered about 37.5 million of the nation’s 80+ million homeowners. Thus, those federal moratoriums actually applied to less than 40% of the nation’s housing units.

Temporary eviction moratoriums are still in effect in certain states, cities and smaller communities. It is important for renters and homeowners to be aware of their state and local laws and the status of their courts (many of which have reopened or never closed).

  • To find websites with more detailed information about renters' and homeowners' eviction and foreclosure protections during the pandemic, you may click on EVICTION PROTECTION INFO WEBSITES.
  • For a tracker on state and local rental-assistance programs, see National Low Income Housing Coalition [NLIHC], State and local rental assistance, posted at https://nlihc.org/rental-assistance.
  • For an extended, background report on Covid-related eviction and foreclosure moratoriums, tenant protections, and courts’ status during the pandemic, please click on AS COURTS REOPEN, EVICTION CONCERNS INCREASE

EHI has summarized how exclusionary housing policies aggravate housing problems that have been linked to increased developmental problems among low-income children. Among those problems are children's health (physical, mental and emotional), safety, educational achievement, and general cognitive and behavioral development. For more, please click on CHILDREN'S DEVELOPMENT & XHPs.