The Matter of Housing Crisis and Inequality during the PandemicBaltimore Post-Examiner

Housing Crisis and Housing Inequality amid the Pandemic

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Recent surveys showed that the housing crisis does not only exist during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has significantly worsened. At a time when people are forced to stay at home because of the coronavirus, many are having trouble keeping up with their mortgage and rent payments. A lot are worried that they might get evicted because they couldn’t pay their lease anymore. Housing inequality, which has long been an issue, worsened during the pandemic.

There are three major elements of a major housing crisis during the pandemic: eviction/foreclosure, rent and mortgage delinquency, and utility payment. The pandemic saw many families being forced out of their homes or had to sell their stuff to pay the mortgage while others couldn’t pay the full amount of their rent. Another problematic issue was the payment of utility bills. During the pandemic, people asked public and private companies to defer the payments of their utility bills.

But here’s the thing: people also began selling their homes and apartments in the cities to transfer to the suburbs. Families decided it is time to have more space and for their children to be a part of a community. With COVID-19 cases spiking in major cities worldwide, families moved to the suburbs where there is more space for social distancing and isolation at home. Since children couldn’t very well go out during the height of the outbreak, the suburbs-with their spacious backyards and safe public playgrounds-was the best choice for families.

This is why there were also a lot of businesses for real estate brokers, as well as property conveyancing agencies. They handle the shift from the city to the suburbs for these families. But that was just one part of the equation. Many are still suffering from housing inequality. So, why does housing matter more than anything else during the pandemic? It’s because of its link to one’s health.

Quality and Condition

The quality and condition of where families stay and sleep all day matter most to their health. Unsanitary homes will lead to health problems, including respiratory issues, cardiovascular conditions, and physical pain. It also affects the physical development of children. Overcrowded homes are not suitable for children who need space for play. When a home does not have access to the outdoors, this was also a huge problem during the pandemic. How are people supposed to stay inside their homes?

Stability and Security

These are overlooked aspects of the housing crisis before and during the pandemic. People need to have control over how long they are going to live in that home. This affects the security they feel being there. Obviously, owners can only stay in their homes as long as they keep up with the payments, either as rent or mortgage. The instability of one’s housing conditions, however, is a major stressor. Can you imagine not knowing if and when you can get evicted from your house? This is especially true for those under short tenancy agreements.

Frequent moving is not only stressful for the family, especially for the children, but it also undermines your engagement with the community and local health services. There is no community to speak of when you move constantly. Your children will not build lifelong friendships.

Affordability

The high prices of real estate are stress points for people. How can they afford a home for their families if their salaries don’t qualify for a loan? And if they try to afford a home, their disposable income will be greatly reduced. This means that they won’t have money for leisurely activities and other necessities that promote good health. How will they afford quality food and gym memberships, for example, when more than half of their salaries go to mortgage repayments?

And as families couldn’t afford their own homes, they will tend to overcrowd the home. Children who already have families of their own might not be able to move out because they couldn’t afford their own apartments. Extended family members such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins might also squeeze themselves into a room because your household seeks to share the costs of living.

All of these problems were already present before COVID-19 wreaked havoc on people’s lives, but they became more apparent during the pandemic. Families had to stay in their homes to isolate and quarantine. The differences in the living situations of many households became a huge issue. The housing crisis and inequality were further highlighted as those who lost their jobs or whose businesses closed had to contend with the fact that their living conditions are not up to standard.


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