Melanie Long, assistant professor of economics, commented on the Biden administration’s coronavirus relief plan in an article for The Conversation, an independent news organization featuring articles from academic experts. The article, “What does the economy need now? 4 suggestions for Biden’s coronavirus relief bill,” featured insights from four economists, including Long, based at colleges and universities around the country. Long specifically focused on how the new relief plan can “address the eviction crisis” and targeting communities who need it the most. “The sharp rise in unemployment due to the pandemic has left many Americans struggling to pay the bills,” she said. “Renters have been among the most vulnerable.” Long explained that renters are more likely to be “poor, young, and either Black or Hispanic” and are only managing because the moratorium on rent has yet to expire. “About nine million households have fallen behind on rent payments, with over one million estimated to owe over $5,000,” she said.
In addition to extending the moratorium passed the new date of March 31, Long suggests that extra aid to renters and landlords could be beneficial. “Limited income beneficiaries especially are likely to spend every extra penny on food and other goods, stimulating the economy,” Long said. The Wooster professor also pointed out housing inequities and how Black Americans are much more likely to rent, rather than own, their homes compared to white Americans, thus making them more likely to lose their homes. “It’s also largely to blame for the stark racial wealth gap in the U.S.,” she said.
Long proposed that Congress provides short-term and long-term solutions to these systemic issues for people of color. “Congress could begin to address these deeper problems by providing down payment assistance in historically redlined communities, which would help thousands that are not currently on the edge of the financial cliff take advantage of historically low interest rates,” Long said.