HUD: Resident Risk Factors Make COVID-19 Support Critical

Regulation | February 11, 2021 | by Linda Couch

“…a COVID-19 response that supports [HUD-assisted renters], including vaccine distribution, is critically important. HUD-assisted households are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 risks because of their intersectionality and compounding of multiple reported risk factors,” a new piece from HUD’s Office of Policy Development & Research says.

“…a COVID-19 response that supports [HUD-assisted renters], including vaccine distribution, is critically important. HUD-assisted households are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 risks because of their intersectionality and compounding of multiple reported risk factors,” a new piece from HUD’s Office of Policy Development & Research says.

“Certain groups are more at risk than others for becoming infected with COVID-19 or for experiencing more severe health outcomes if they do get infected,” the HUD column says. The new HUD piece explores how at-risk populations are represented among tenants of HUD-assisted housing. The HUD piece compares the COVID-19 risk factors of age, disability, race, income and unemployment, and crowding to the profile of HUD-assisted residents.

On the risk factor of age, rates of hospitalization and mortality from COVID-19 are 90 times higher for those 65+ and 630 times higher for those 85+. HUD-assisted renters, the piece says, are much more likely to be 65+ and 75+ than non-HUD assisted renters. Of HUD-assisted renters, 14% are 75+ vs. 9% of unassisted but eligible and 3% of ineligible renters, and 17% are 65+ vs. 10% of unassisted but eligible renters and 5% of ineligible renters.

The column looks at the risk factor of disability because adults with disabilities are three times more likely than adults without disabilities to experience heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer. According to the HUD’s Picture of Subsidized Households, the column says, among heads or co-heads of HUD-assisted households, 46% of those 62+ have a disability. “The prevalence of mobility disabilities and other types of disabilities among HUD-assisted households, along with their higher average age, increases their risk for severe illness caused by COVID-19,” the column says.

On the risk factor of race, the column says, according to the American Housing Survey, the number of Black households is disproportionately higher among HUD-assisted renters than among owners, renters ineligible for HUD assistance, or renters eligible for HUD assistance but not assisted. Being non-white “can pose risks for COVID-19 infection and negative outcomes due to the effects of social determinants of health such as discrimination and racism, which create chronic stress and cause disparities in access to health care, housing, education, and jobs, among other needs,” the column says. Of all HUD-assisted renters, 46% are Black, compared to 21% of unassisted but eligible renters and 16% of ineligible renters.

It is not only the HUD-assisted residents themselves who are disproportionately non-white, but, on average, HUD-assisted units are in census tracts where 55% of the population is nonwhite and 25 percent of the population have incomes below the federal poverty level. These findings indicate risk at the neighborhood level that extends beyond household-level risks.

Supporting HUD-assisted households with COVID-19 preparedness and mitigation strategies would also support some of the populations disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” the column says.

The HUD column, COVID-19 Risk Factors Among HUD-Assisted Renters, is available here.