Statement of Task
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has launched the Response and Resilient Recovery Strategic Science Initiative (R3SSI) to inform policy makers and community leaders across the United States on critical decision making for crisis response and recovery related to COVID-19. The goal is to create scenarios that will allow decision makers to invest resources to prevent a long-term legacy of problems that cascade, in this case, from the virus, to people’s health, to society, to national economies, and even to global political stability.
The Initiative’s Executive Council consists of leaders from across government, business, and academia who identify and prioritize major areas of concern and opportunities for improvement related to the pandemic and its collateral effects. Topics selected by the Executive Council are provided to a Strategy Group of experts who will conduct rapid, scenario-based analyses of both possible and probable negative and positive outcomes. In consultation with stakeholders, the Strategy Group will consider the impacts of natural and human-initiated stressors, predict possible future states, and build roadmaps for recognizing vulnerabilities with approximate levels of scientific uncertainty. The outputs will include concise, actionable, evidence-based advice on potential interventions that can improve pandemic and crisis prevention, preparedness and response, and health outcomes, and strengthen resilience in systems and communities.
The first Strategy Group will analyze COVID-19 impacts on rental property evictions within low- and middle-income communities and disadvantaged groups in the near and medium terms (6–24 months and 3–5 years, respectively). A strategic scenario would explore, but will not be limited to, the possibility that a wave of evictions from rental properties will emerge amid weak economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. Possible interventions derived from this scenario work will inform governments, nongovernmental organizations, rental property owners, and the financial sector on how to mitigate and prevent evictions and the associated harm.
At the time when this study started in winter 2020, potential direct and indirect consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic had led experts to predict one of the most severe housing crises in U.S. history. A supporting analysis of the U.S. Census Pulse Survey back in August 2020 predicted that an estimated 30–40 million people were at risk of eviction (Benfer et al., 2020). While accurate numbers of evictions during the pandemic are not yet known, with their financial resources depleted, a large number of households could find themselves behind on rent as earlier federal- and state-mandated moratoriums on evictions expire. In the face of uncertainty, rapid and robust interventions taken now could help mitigate a potential mass eviction.
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