Even before the coronavirus pandemic sent the U.S. economy into a tailspin, many of the roughly 110 million Americans living in rental housing were having a difficult time making ends meet. Nearly 4 million eviction petitions were filed each year. On any given night as many as 200,000 people were homeless.
Now in the pandemic, the eviction is a threat to renters on a far larger scale, by some estimates potentially affecting upwards of 30 million tenants.
In Fresno, Calif., the coronavirus pandemic has magnified damage caused by decades of discriminatory housing practices. Residents of its poorest neighborhoods, mostly people of color, face eviction at a higher rate than their white neighbors, an issue we explore in this installment of “Hitting Home,” a multi-city, multiplatform Retro Report project giving context and history to reporting on evictions. This video also appears on Fresnoland.
The eviction threat has been mitigated – for now – by a federal moratorium on evictions. But solutions to America’s chronic housing problems will likely remain an elusive goal long after the pandemic has ended.
In “Hitting Home," short documentaries from Fresno; Richmond, Va.; and New York City open a window on issues that shape America’s housing crisis. With support from a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, these reports will be folded into a feature-length documentary. This project was developed with support from the Pulitzer Center the James Irvine Foundation and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.