Statement from NFHA President and CEO Lisa Rice on HUD’s COVID-19 Response

For Immediate Release

March 23, 2020

Contact: Izzy Woodruff | 202-898-1661 | IWoodruff@nationalfairhousing.org

Statement from NFHA President and CEO Lisa Rice on HUD’s COVID-19 Response

Washington, D.C. — The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) applauds recent steps taken by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to assist homeowners affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Implementing a moratorium on foreclosures and foreclosure-related evictions for at least 60 days is a good first step in helping provide some relief to consumers who are experiencing challenges and will help ensure that those who are unable to work as a result of this health crisis can maintain a roof over their heads for the time being. But more needs to be done.

In times of crisis, the worst aspects of society can sometimes be displayed. Since the COVID-19 virus began its spread, there have been reports of increased discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and we have seen irrational acts of xenophobia. We also know, from decades of experience, that in times of crisis, women are particularly susceptible to acts of sexual harassment from their landlords and other housing and financial services providers. We need additional funding to address discrimination related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, HUD should ensure that, now more than ever, there are multiple ways for people to submit complaints (e.g. via phone and online), that these complaints are addressed in a timely manner, that complaints are not dismissed due to statute of limitations issues related to the crisis, and that fair housing organizations are supported throughout and after the crisis.

We call on all government agencies to adopt and enforce policies to prohibit officials from associating COVID-19 with any particular geographic region, country or nationality and to follow and promote the World Health Organization’s policies for avoiding social stigma associated with the disease. We also call on governmental agencies to ensure that they themselves, as well as the entities they fund, abide by all civil rights obligations and laws, including the Fair Housing Act, and ensure that all programs affirmatively further fair housing.

Finally, we call for the implementation of a national rental assistance payment program; a moratorium on all negative credit reporting; a suspension of all evictions, including HUD-assisted housing facilities and programs; extended moratoria on foreclosures and foreclosure-related evictions; increased funding for the Disaster Housing Assistance Program and the Housing Choice Voucher Program; increased funding for Public Housing Authorities (PHAs); and other measures to provide support to people and communities affected by the COVID-19 crisis. NFHA has developed a dedicated section on our website to provide information about the COVID-19 crisis, and we invite everyone to visit it regularly for important updates.

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About The National Fair Housing Alliance

Founded in 1988, NFHA is a consortium of more than 220 private, nonprofit fair housing organizations, state and local civil rights agencies, and individuals from throughout the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., NFHA works to eliminate housing discrimination and ensure equal housing opportunity for all people through leadership, education, outreach, membership services, public policy initiatives, community development, advocacy, and enforcement.

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