Public funding for low-income renters doubled during the pandemic. The question is: What happens next?

Report by Peter Ciurczak , Luc Schuster
February 16, 2022

Boston Indicators   (Boston)

In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, much was written about the potential disaster ahead for lower-income renters. The threat was all too real. With the closure of non-essential, in-person businesses, lower-wage service workers, disproportionately Black and Latino, were much more likely to lose their jobs. Service workers who weren’t laid off were often in frontline jobs that couldn’t be conducted remotely, forced to balance work and the risk of infection for themselves and their families.

But while the threat was emphasized, far less coverage has focused on the unprecedented state and federal policy response, which was far larger and far more progressive than the policy response to the Great Recession. This was especially true in the United States, which had among the very largest fiscal responses of any developed nation in the world. Not only did the federal government respond at scale, so did Massachusetts, with the state spending hundreds of millions of local dollars to help many of the most vulnerable families make ends meet. All of this should be Exhibit A for advocates who want to build broader support for government action that counteracts the inequality-enhancing features of economic recessions, and of market capitalism more broadly.