COVID Evictees Forced To Gamble For Shelter? Sigh, Same Old Same Old

dog with mournful expression against a shamrock green background
My Little Shamrock Lucky Boo Lefou photo by DaPuglet is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Will this be my lucky day?

Nation, an American publication, reacts with some horror to the fate that would seem to be inevitable for no-job no-rent households, and COVID-19 moratoriums on evictions begin to expire.

Depending on the state and municipality, some cash strapped governments are finding a little financial support to dole out, which doesn’t begin to cover the scope of this brewing crisis. But in modern-day America, ‘land of opportunity’ means ‘the right to gamble.’ Winners are a handful of happy campers who win meagre financial support for their shelter woes. Losers get to rip up their ticket and play again. Read more in Nation: When Shelter Comes Down To The Luck Of The Draw

The true horror of this story? Lotteries were widespread before COVID-19. Lottery schemes have become part of the system that short-changes people who need housing. Need a place with reasonable rent that is guaranteed to stay that way? This was the historic purpose of public housing. But public housing waiting lists have become absurd, and the chances of ever being chosen to enter a lottery, let alone winning the right to occupy a home, are growing slimmer and slimmer.

How bad is it? In February, long before all but a handful of American public health scientists were even aware of COVID-19. King County in Washington reopened its subsidized housing lottery. Reopened? Yes, for the longest time, it was closed. Just think about the opportunities of winning a lottery that doesn’t print tickets and doesn’t offer prizes!

But now, a gleam of hope! A few public housing units will be up for grabs. Alas, the threadbare facts of King County’s affordable housing crisis, as well as its American ‘Land Of Opportunity’ lottery solution, are frightening to consider. Read more in the Seattle Times: Vying for a golden ticket: King County Housing Authority reopens subsidized housing lottery

It’s important to realize that even with herculean efforts to solve the post COVID-19 eviction crisis, many Americans with low or no incomes have lost employment or savings. COVID-19 has added to the perfect storm has been brewing for decades.