This article features the efforts of five PHAs in states worst-stricken by COVID-19 in the US.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect millions of people directly as well as indirectly in the US. The vulnerable populations including the elderly and people with underlying conditions have been the worst hit. Economically weaker sections of the society including the homeless and those living in affordable housing have also been at substantial risk. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a series of waivers and program updates for the public housing and housing choice voucher (HCV) programs aimed towards supporting public housing authorities (PHAs) to continue providing critical housing services during the pandemic.
PHAs across the country have been actively involved in ensuring safety and well-being of their residents and staff. Here is how PHAs in the worst hit states have responded to COVID-19.
- New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), New York: With more than 100,000 confirmed cases, NYC, one of the largest cities in the world, has been the hotspot of the pandemic in the US. Some of the important steps taken by the NYCHA include educating residents on how to keep themselves safe, providing regular updates and notifications through their website and mobile app, sanitizing all public housing buildings, and prioritizing work orders. A rent reduction program has also been launched to support families experiencing loss of income due to COVID-19.
- Newark Housing Authority (NHA), New Jersey: The NHA has set-up a dedicated resource center on its website to share coronavirus related updates and information including the do’s and don’ts. The PHA has updated its policy, which restricts the entry of all except essential visitors to all its senior sites to protect the senior residents from unnecessary exposures. The city has partnered with certain supermarkets to reserve special grocery shopping hours for residents above the age of 60 to further limit the spread.
- Boston Housing Authority (BHA), Massachusetts: Like many other PHAs, BHA has also ceased evictions of public housing residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The city partnered with universities and colleges to convert empty dormitory rooms to temporary homeless shelters. BHA has also restricted visitations at the public housing facilities across the city. The PHA has also partnered with Boston Public Schools (BPS) to house up to 1,000 families that may face homelessness over the next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA), Pennsylvania: The PHA launched a Hardship Rent Abatement program to assist families that have experienced loss of job, income, or number of work hours because of coronavirus. The authority is also running a grab-n-go breakfast program at different locations to help residents with free meals during this difficult time. It recently partnered with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to provide as many as 2,000 dinners to combat food insecurity during the pandemic.
- Detroit Housing Commission (DHC), Michigan: The DHC launched a special COVID-19 hotline to allow its residents to contact the authorities in case of any questions, concerns or requests related to the pandemic. The PHA’s website provides essential resources and list of virtual events that residents can attend to stay occupied and take care of their mental health while social distancing. The authority’s website provides information about several other resources to support residents get through the pandemic including programs that offer free meals for students and seniors and complimentary wi-fi plans.
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