Everywhere, higher levels of COVID-19 sickness and death are being associated with urban regions of low income, overcrowding and substandard housing conditions. These regions often contain, or are exclusively comprised of, housing where the government is the landlord.
Rather than slapping our foreheads in amazement at the correlation between ill-health and substandard housing and amenities, we must realize that activists and governments have known about this problem for two centuries, not just two weeks.1
For a good part of the 20th century, many nations acted to fix this problem by building social housing. By the end of the twentieth century, some nations began to view social housing as the problem rather than the solution, even as they offered no viable alternatives. The twenty-first century has seen that trend accelerate.
COVID-19 has provided a sharp reminder that ghetto-like conditions continue to exist, and they do so within drastically underfunded social housing. For an Irish exploration of the problem, and what to do about it, read more in Independent.ie: We need a vision for housing that will last into next century