New Polling: Voters Overwhelmingly Agree on Banning Evictions and Foreclosures, Other Housing Assistance Programs Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

With unemployment and other forms of financial insecurity skyrocketing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report published Tuesday shows that large majorities of voters from both political parties support halting evictions and foreclosures in the face of the pandemic. The polling also shows broad bipartisan support for an expansive set of assistance programs for renters and homeowners.

The report follows news that about one-third of apartment renters didn’t pay rent in the first week of April, in the face of a nationwide economic slowdown that has now led to more than 16 million jobless claims. Jurisdictions around the country have explored a variety of measures to offer protection to renters and landlords, many of whom rely on rental income to pay their own mortgages. But the temporary nature of many of the leading assistance proposals makes them insufficient, according to the report’s author.

“The government plans that have passed thus far to keep people in their homes all fail to properly protect people who will be struggling financially not just right now but in the many months after the crisis ends,” said Rachel D. Godsil, a professor at Rutgers Law School and Director of Research and Co-Founder of Perception Institute. “Government actors must seize on the broad bipartisan support to take the bold action needed to ensure everyone, including homeowners, renters, and landlords, is protected.”

According to the survey, voters support the following measures for as long as there is a state of emergency:

  • 81% support a ban on evictions; 84% support a ban on foreclosures.
  • 76% support a “suspend and forgive” rent program, under which the government—not the renter—would compensate landlords for lost rental income.
  • 78% support a “suspend and forgive” mortgage payment program.
  • 80% support a “sliding scale” rental assistance program that provides direct payments to tenants to ensure people can pay their rent despite coronavirus-related lost income.
  • 83% support rental assistance to Americans experiencing homelessness.
  • 87% support government assistance to non-profit housing providers to ensure that those providers are able to continue to provide stable housing to their tenants.

The report calls for the federal government to step up and provide direct payments to renters to cover their costs, or to provide states with funding to provide such assistance. Alternatively, it proposes a crisis “mansion” tax on high-worth properties to fund necessary rental assistance programs.

The full report is available here.

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