News Roundup

  • Senate Proposes Bipartisan COVID-19 Aid for Homeless Youth and Families

    This week, US senators put forward a bipartisan proposal that would designate $1 billion in federal aid to homeless youth and families’ shelters, motel bills, food, school supplies, and other services. School closures in mid-March and increased unemployment because of COVID-19 raised experts’ concerns that the effects of the pandemic on homeless youth, including diminished technology access and the possible disconnection from personal relationships with educators, could cause dropout rates to rise.

  • Chicago Announces Plan to Use Developers’ Fees to Safeguard Affordable Housing

    The Chicago Department of Housing’s proposed Emergency Relief for Affordable Multifamily Properties Program (ERAMP) plans to offer no-interest loans of up to $75,000 to keep multifamily units from foreclosure. Marisa Novara, Chicago’s housing commissioner, says ERAMP intends to address not only property owners’ income losses as tenants struggle to pay bills during the COVID-19 pandemic but also “a level of cleaning that was not part of their maintenance in the past.” Grant-eligible properties include projects that previously received city support and that provide affordable units under a covenant. The department estimates these grants could help preserve around 3,400 units in 40 properties and says these grants will be distributed in addition to direct tenant relief. Both tenant relief and ERAMP are funded by the city’s inclusionary zoning program, the Affordable Requirements Ordinance, which requires developers who do not include affordable housing in new multifamily properties to pay a fee.

  • Experts Call for Reform to Facility Design, Policies as Nursing Home COVID-19 Mortality Rate Rises

    According to an analysis by the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, nursing homes and assisted living facilities, which house 0.62 percent of the US population, are the site of 43 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the US. Reflecting on this high mortality rate, many experts are critiquing orders from states including New Jersey, New York, and Michigan that mandate nursing homes accept patients with active COVID-19 infections who have been discharged from hospitals. Florida, however, banned hospitals from discharging COVID-infected patients into long-term care facilities, a decision experts say other states should follow. Experts are also raising concerns around nursing home design and capacity. This week, advocates in Minnesota raised the alarm that the institutional design of many nursing homes, including shared rooms and bathrooms, creates densely populated facilities that expedite the coronavirus’s spread. Minnesota reports the highest shares of COVID-19 deaths in such facilities, with residents of assisted living homes accounting for 81 percent of state deaths from the coronavirus. “We accepted these arrangements as a society, and now our elders are paying the ultimate price,” said Eilon Caspi, a gerontologist and adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing. 

  • With New York Housing Court Closed, Some Attorneys Consider Utilizing State Supreme Court

    Though the New York Housing Court is closed and the state’s eviction moratorium is effective through August 20, the state supreme court’s decision to begin allowing new, nonessential cases via electronic filing presents an opportunity for landlords to evict tenants during the moratorium. In New York, the supreme court can use an “ejectment action,” or a common-law eviction proceeding, that is conducted outside of housing court. “You can bring an ejectment action in Supreme Court in lieu of a holdover or non-payment eviction in Housing Court.… [The court] may not like it, but there is jurisdiction,” said Luise Barrack, head of the litigation department at law firm Rosenberg & Estis. Such cases would undermine the state’s attempt to protect renters who have increased vulnerability during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some worry that should landlords turn to the supreme court for evictions, the increased caseload could pressure the state to prematurely open the housing court. This week, in anticipation of a surge in eviction cases after the moratorium is lifted, the housing court began conducting virtual conferences on pending cases filed before the pandemic.