How Covid-19 Has Affected Housing in Chicago's Suburbs
It has been one year since the beginning of the pandemic. This year has taught us the importance of grace, empathy, flexibility, and the incredible resilience of our clients.
Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on our clients' housing stability, how we conduct outreach, and how we provide services. Are evictions happening on the North Shore? Absolutely.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, The United States may be facing the most severe housing crisis in its history.
The pandemic hit when
47.5% of all renter households were already rental cost-burdened
25% of renters were spending 50% on their income on rent each month
Since December 2020, Open Communities has received over 300 calls for rent and landlord-tenant mediation.
Many of our clients have lost their job during the pandemic. Many are struggling to pay their bills, find new employment, and afford food. Many of our clients are unable to pay their rent or mortgage. People are in a housing crisis, and if we do not mitigate it quickly, they will be forced into filing bankruptcy. Additionally, we anticipate an increased need for eviction prevention after the State Eviction Moratorium ends.
Open Communities staff, clients, donors, funders, and community partners are all experiencing a shared sense of trauma and grief associated with the pandemic's effects. This shared sense of loss has created a shared sense of connection, passion, and mission to help families and communities stay safe and housed.
We have seen an increase in first-time donors wanting to help in the shared efforts of supporting the community.
We have seen funders quickly pivot to provide Covid-19 relief funds. We have seen community partners work together to meet the immediate needs of clients.
Open Communities staff continues to show grace and celebrate gratitude while pivoting with the ever-changing landscape of Covid-19. Our staff continues to work tirelessly through sickness, balancing work and childcare needs, the strains of isolation, and loss of connection. Many Open Communities' team were trained and have only met coworkers and clients remotely.
Often we are a client's last resort. Knowing this, we approach trauma-informed care and a sense of empathy and compassion. Our Clients continue to show up as brave, vulnerable advocates in their self-empowerment in gaining access to information, resources, and tools in their fight for fair and just housing.