Public Policy – Housing Stability Before anyone had heard of COVID-19, Texas already had a housing affordability problem. The cost of housing has risen steady over the past three decades while wages for low-skill and unskilled workers have been largely stagnant. When the coronavirus pandemic derailed the economy in March, 2020, many Texans found themselves out of work, especially service workers in nail salons, restaurants, bars, hotels and other “non-essential’ businesses that were forced to close or greatly cut back on their operations. Many Texans, living paycheck-to-paycheck already, quickly found themselves unable to pay rent. The Texas Supreme Court quickly imposed a moratorium on residential evictions through the end of May. Congress passed the CARES Act, which suspended evictions on “covered properties” through the end of July, and made the process more lengthy after the end of the moratorium. Local cities and counties created various rental assistance programs, the funding for which was exhausted as quickly as each program could open for applications. Now, Texas is looking at a resumption of evictions, even as many Texans are unemployed and unemployment compensation is running out. At the same time, housing providers are struggling to pay their bills and keep utilities turned on at thousands of apartment properties, even with many residents not paying rent. As if this weren’t enough, the downturn in the energy industry may last far longer than the virus, and cause further economic problems that impact the job and housing markets. In June, Houston and Harris County appointed a Housing Stability Task Force to make policy recommendations, which began meeting the same week this class started. For your final assignment in this class, write our standard 2 – 5 page essay (this will probably need more than 2 pages…) as if you were serving on the Housing Policy Task Force. What would you recommend and why? If your recommendation costs money, make sure your recommendation includes a source for the funding. Submit in Word. Cite your sources. Additional Resources Here’s your Housing Stability Task Force: https://cjo.harriscountytx.gov/Newsroom/housing-stability-task-force-members-represent-service-providers-property-owners-tenants-and-advocates (Links to an external site.) The Texas Supreme Court imposes an eviction moratorium: https://www.texastribune.org/2020/03/19/coronavirus-updates-texas-economy-government-employees-telemedicine/ (Links to an external site.) And extends it: https://www.texastribune.org/2020/04/28/Texas-evictions-moratorium-extended/ (Links to an external site.) This Kinder Institute report outlines the problem: https://kinder.rice.edu/urbanedge/2020/06/23/rents-and-home-prices-go-once-affordable-houston-housing-grows-less-accessible (Links to an external site.) January Advisors has an “Eviction Dashboard” that tracks eviction cases across the county: https://www.januaryadvisors.com/evictions/ (Links to an external site.) Here’s a look at the problem from the landlord’s perspective: RidgwayOpEdJuly2020.docx
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