2020 COVID-19 Urban Research-to-Action Award: How Are Cities Responding to the COVID-19 Housing Crisis?

PI: Katherine Levine Einstein, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, BU College of Arts & Sciences (CAS)
Co-PI: Maxwell Palmer, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Sciences, CAS

Many cities have responded to the housing crisis caused by COVID-19 with various protections and programs, ranging from financial relief funds for housing costs to eviction and foreclosure moratoriums. Einstein and Palmer will examine the patchwork of housing policies created in response to the COVID-19 crisis for the 150 largest cities in the United States and for the 101 member communities of the Greater Boston Metropolitan Area Planning Commission to understand the different approaches pursued by large cities, mid-sized, and smaller cities. In researching the various ways that governments are responding, they will survey housing commissioners from a select number of cities, examine which policies are most successful, what factors predict how and in what ways cities have responded, and who is helped by such programs.

One key element of their research will be to evaluate the extent to which those in greatest need of assistance are receiving it. Working in partnership with the Citizens’ Housing & Planning Association (CHAPA), Einstein and Palmer will also help disseminate information about available housing assistance to local government agencies and residents in Massachusetts who are most in need. They will also create summary reports for policymakers describing the various approaches and their strengths and weakness to inform the development of new and updated policies over the next several months.


Einstein, Katherine, Maxwell Palmer, Stacy Fox, Marina Bernadino, Noah Fischer, Jackson Moore-Otto, Aislinn O’Brien, Marilyn Rutecki, and Benjamin Wuesthoff (2020). “COVID-19 housing policy.” Boston University Initiative on Cities.

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