“Home has rarely been more of a life or death situation.”

— Leilani Farha, UN special rapporteur on the right of adequate housing 

The economic impacts of the global pandemic are exacerbating what were already significant housing needs. In the United States, more than 18 million American families were paying half or more of their income on housing prior to the pandemic. Now, with more than 25 million Americans losing their jobs in the last five weeks, the situation has deteriorated significantly, making many more families face impossible choices between their housing payments and providing for life’s other essentials.

Globally, housing conditions in many urban areas threaten to greatly aggravate the public health crisis. People living in slums or other informal housing are not able to physically distance themselves from others, and often do not have access to clean water.

“Housing conditions can literally mean the difference between life and death,” Reckford said. “In any disaster, it is those with the least who are impacted the most. These are the families with whom Habitat partners. Now, more than ever, we need to make sure we are ready and able to answer the call.”