Report: COVID, Race and Housing
We are excited to share our report on COVID-19’s Impact on Race and Housing Security Across Philadelphia: Philadelphia Renter’s Report. This report tells the stories of Philadelphia renters, through visuals, statistics, and most importantly, through the words of Philadelphia renters themselves.
This report outlines the ways that housing policy, the COVID-19 pandemic, and other realities intersect to harm communities of color, and especially Black women living in those communities. The report also explores the ways these groups are “locked out of time”, because of the constant disruption and trauma created by housing insecurity. Facilitated focus groups among Philadelphia renters created an opportunity for community members to construct memory together, sharing their own personal and shared housing journeys.
Research was conducted by an independent team of researchers, all Black women living in West Philadelphia. Lead researcher Rachelle Faroul is a queer Black woman from Brooklyn, NY, and Research Assistant, Abigail Brown, is a student at Cabrini University. Researcher Rashni Stanford, M.S.W, supported the design of the renters survey and focus groups.
Participating in focus groups and interviews, Philadelphia renters vocalized a set of powerful and imaginative recommendations. Among many others, renters emphasized the need for:
Racial Justice, Solidarity and Organizing
Participants noted that White tenants and those with other privileges should be vocal in the fight against evictions. People see eviction notices on their neighbors’ doors but do not know how to support them.
“[Race] definitely plays a role into who experienced this housing instability. I mean, the statistics are extremely bleak. And, and the disparities between the haves and the have nots or who has the housing, stability and who doesn’t. And, and this community will in Philadelphia, is primarily Well, before the drug pandemic. It was primarily black people who were faced in housing instabilities, and we still are,..”
Housing and Land Justice
“I think there needs to be like some accountability and consequences for people who have profited off of other people’s suffering…there needs to be some justice with that… take their buildings. And I think many of them should face criminal consequences,… take all the money back too that they’ve taken from us. And, like, change the system so that they can’t just claw their way back up again.”
Eviction Response Teams
Participants recommended teams of people who will step up and get tenants what they need in the moments after being evicted or locked out of their home. Emergency housing, furniture, transportation, food, and clothing are the resources that people typically lose first right after they have been evicted.
“But what if there were like, an eviction response team, and people who were like, Okay, so this happens, how can we help you get back on your feet? How can we help you find new housing? What kind of support do you need? In a perfect world, that would be really cool to have.”
Improving Mental Health Resources
The improvement of mental health services and resources as critical surviving the pandemic was a recurring theme throughout the focus groups. This included identifying more resources that are specific to children, youth, and young adults who are being underserved during the pandemic and are being impacted in specific ways.
“Yeah. And then beside that, so besides the economic difficulties from COVID-19, like I would, I would say, like the emotional challenges that we talked about earlier, just like anger, sadness and anxiety it’s been a lot. And then also, of course, like the lifestyle changes that someone else mentioned, like you can’t have your friends and family over.”
…[W]e’ve been holding each other up weighing each other down this whole time. And no matter what happens, we’re still going to do that, like we’ve been doing that for generations. So like, there’s no reason why it should be different now. So I think, in times of trauma, and times of turmoil, it’s given people a chance to support each other, like, it gives people a chance to be their best selves. And so I definitely think we’ve seen a lot of that, and it’s really amazing.”
Read the full report here