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Ensuring equitable housing opportunities for everyone

Housing and Homelessness Programme / Partner story

© Generation Rent

In 2020, equitable access to secure, stable, and decent housing has mattered more than ever before. In a time of crisis, our partners in the housing sector came together, across countries, to house those experiencing street homelessness, prevent evictions, give emergency relief and support, and to strengthen campaigning and advocacy to ensure that everyone was safely housed.

In the UK, as soon the national lockdown was announced in March 2020, Crisis, along with many other not-for-profit organisations, immediately negotiated with the government to ensure all people currently experiencing street homelessness were securely placed in hotels. The ‘Everybody In’ campaign coordinated the use of hotel and emergency accommodation. A total of GBP 3.2 million in funds were allocated to local authorities, with clear instructions to ensure no individual was left sleeping on the streets.

In the US, the introduction of the bi-partisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act saw immediate funding put into tackling homelessness during the pandemic. To influence the passage of the Act, the National Low Income Housing Coalition brought together 850 housing organisations across the country, known as the Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition. It included USD 4 billion for emergency solutions grants for homelessness assistance. This was a significant increase on the USD 1 billion that was proposed by the government.

Alongside protecting those who were homeless during the pandemic, there was huge concern for those living in the private rented sector, due to the risk of eviction. As soon as lockdown began in England, Generation Rent mobilised thousands of renters to write to their MPs. Within days, a national ban on evictions was announced. Generation Rent successfully pushed for extensions to the eviction ban, which continued to September 2020. Now that the eviction ban has lifted, a landlord can serve their tenants with a Section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction notice. Therefore, Generation Rent is stepping up its campaign to ensure the government delivers on its pledge to scrap Section 21.

“Section 21, where a landlord can evict a renter without giving a reason, is the number one cause of homelessness,” said Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent. “That’s why Generation Rent is so proud that our ‘End Unfair Evictions’ campaign led to the UK Government committing to end Section 21. Now this legislation urgently needs to be published to make sure renters who have been hit hard by the pandemic do not lose their home through no fault of their own.”

In the US, our partners campaigned for eviction moratoria in different states. For example, in Philadelphia, the Reinvestment Fund engaged with local officials to participate in the City of Philadelphia’s efforts to design and implement emergency housing legislation to stop evictions. When a group of landlords filed a lawsuit in an attempt to halt the legislation, Reinvestment Fund provided an affidavit and succeeded in defending the moratorium. The affidavit connected eviction patterns with data on the health and economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. That document has served as an essential point of reference beyond the life of the initial lawsuit for which it was written.

In 2021, the Housing and Homeless Programme team will review its strategies and funding priorities to ensure that we continue to support and strengthen organisations that are as committed as we are to ending homelessness and ensuring a secure home for everyone. Our website page will be updated in due course, so make sure to check it out!