Washington, DC – Today, the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign released the results of a national public opinion poll that it recently commissioned through Hart Research Associates. The poll reveals that Americans are deeply concerned about housing instability as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and expect major action from Congress to prevent evictions and homelessness. The vast majority of the public, on a bipartisan basis, believes the government should:
- Provide emergency rental assistance for people who are struggling to afford the rent and are at serious risk of eviction as a result of the coronavirus outbreak (93% favor);
- Expand funding for homeless assistance programs that minimize the number of people living in large shelters by providing them with alternative individual spaces for isolation and self-quarantine (90% favor); and
- Enact a uniform, nationwide policy that stops all evictions during the coronavirus outbreak (89% favor).
Over half (54%) of all people express concern that they will lose their housing if they don’t get additional assistance to help cover the costs – and this concern is more acute among lower-income households and people of color (61% of households making below $40,000 say this is a concern; and 72% of African Americans and 76% of Latinos say this is a concern, compared to 43% of whites). Additionally, 66% of people say the amount they pay for housing is a concern, with 44% saying it is a big concern. Of all people who said it’s a concern, 65% say their concern about the amount they pay for housing has increased since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Nearly half (46%) of the public reports that they have had to make at least one sacrifice since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak to make sure they can pay their rent or mortgage, such as cutting back on healthy food, stopping retirement savings, and using a credit card to help cover all or some of their housing costs. Among those who applied for unemployment benefits as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, a significant proportion (31%) do not believe the unemployment benefits will cover their basic living expenses, including housing costs, over the next several months.
The poll also reveals that people across the political spectrum expect action from elected officials. Eight in ten people think it’s very or fairly important for government to provide assistance to help people cover their housing costs during the coronavirus outbreak, including 92% of Democrats, 81% of Independents, 67% of Republicans, and 63% of conservative Republicans. Nearly 8 in 10 (78%) agree that our elected leaders are not putting enough attention on people’s need for help to pay for their housing during the coronavirus outbreak. Eighty-eight percent of people agree that providing housing assistance to prevent evictions and homelessness during the coronavirus outbreak should be considered as urgent a priority as investments in healthcare and 87% agree that our elected leaders in Washington should take major action to make sure everyone has stable, affordable housing during the coronavirus outbreak. By a 2:1 margin (67% to 33%), people want to see government make major housing investments even if it means increasing the deficit, including 79% of Democrats, 76% of Independents, and 49% of Republicans.
To view a more in-depth fact sheet of the poll results, click here.
To view the survey data, click here.
To view the survey’s infographics, click here.
WHAT THE CAMPAIGN’S LEADERS ARE SAYING
“The rent is due soon, and millions of people in America can’t afford to pay,” said Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “Without a major federal intervention there will be a tsunami of evictions and a spike in homelessness across the country, devastating individuals, communities, and our economy. Across the country and across party lines, people in America overwhelmingly want Congress to act to keep people stably housed. They should heed the call.”
“This poll is a call to action,” said Mike Koprowski, National Director of the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign. “These results should deeply alarm policymakers and convince them to take the necessary action. With over 40 million Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits since the outbreak, investing in housing and protecting renters from evictions is needed now more than ever. It will save taxpayer dollars, keep people healthy, and provide the stability necessary to restore our economy.”
“This pandemic shows your opportunity for health starts at your home and those in your community,” said Dr. Megan Sandel, MD MPH, Principal Investigator with Children’s HealthWatch and Co-Director of the Grow Clinic at Boston Medical Center. “We are linked together so now is the time for the Federal Government to invest in a healthier future through more rental assistance and affordable homes.”
“We know the public wants their representatives to give people the tools they need to move from homelessness to housing,” said Nan Roman, President and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. “This new study shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the urgency of that work.”