The New York Times: Opinion | The Rent Eats First, Even During a Pandemic

The New York Times, August 29, 2020: Opinion | The Rent Eats First, Even During a Pandemic

In March, as New York City became an epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, Mr. Loaiza returned to San Antonio and quarantined at home. But the virus was not far behind him, and when it arrived in full force in Texas, the jobs dried up. Mr. Loaiza and Ms. Bedoya had enough savings to cover April’s rent, $1,595, but they had to skimp on other bills. They began relying on food boxes from their church. As I’ve noted before, the rent eats first.

Sensing that his family wouldn’t be able to make the next month’s rent, Mr. Loaiza applied for emergency assistance and called the city’s Neighborhood and Housing Services Department so frequently that the operators got to know him by name. But it seemed as if all of San Antonio was calling, and Mr. Loaiza learned it could be a full month before help would arrive, if it arrived at all. When Houston approved $15 million in additional rental assistance, it ran out in less than two hours.

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Redlining and Neighborhood Health

Before the pandemic devastated minority communities, banks and government officials starved them of capital.

Lower-income and minority neighborhoods that were intentionally cut off from lending and investment decades ago today suffer not only from reduced wealth and greater poverty, but from lower life expectancy and higher prevalence of chronic diseases that are risk factors for poor outcomes from COVID-19, a new study shows.

The new study, from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) with researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health and the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, compared 1930’s maps of government-sanctioned lending discrimination zones with current census and public health data.

Table of Content

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Redlining, the HOLC Maps and Segregation
  • Segregation, Public Health and COVID-19
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
  • Citations
  • Appendix

Complete the form to download the full report: