Professor of Urban Planning Vinit Mukhija spoke to the New York Times about the failures of the federal housing relief packages created during the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the economic devastation caused by the pandemic, Congress created a $46.5 billion fund for emergency rental assistance, one of the biggest infusions in federal housing aid in generations. However, resistance from landlords and difficulties navigating the informal housing market made it difficult for residents to access aid packages, and much of the aid is unspent. The relief package did not account for informal and un-permitted housing arrangements, including subletters and roommates whose claim to their space often isn’t documented. “There’s a completely hidden story about how do we access millions of tenants that are in un-permitted units,” Mukhija said. In Los Angeles County, there are an estimated 200,000 illegal housing units, highlighting the contrast between the low-income rental market and the rest of the housing market.
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