For Immediate Release: Tuesday, July 28, 2020
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich’s proposal to provide an additional $20 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to expand rental assistance for eviction and homelessness prevention was approved today by the Montgomery County Council. This funding will expand the County’s eviction and homelessness prevention programs, including the COVID Rent Relief program administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
“Today’s vote provides much-needed, additional support for the people of Montgomery County,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “Now that the courts have lifted the stay on evictions, we want to be prepared for the hearings of rental nonpayment cases that will likely take place after August 31. It is imperative that we use our resources to support tenants during these difficult times and this funding will enable us to assist renters in working with landlords to avoid eviction. I recognize that $20 million is not the full amount we will need, but it represents a significant investment that will be needed to address this challenge.”
“The pandemic has caused severe income loss and economic distress for households across Montgomery County,” said Council President Sidney Katz. “This $20 million in assistance is essential to ensuring that renters in our community can continue to stay in their homes. County leaders will continue working to help protect renters from eviction, and I know that these funds will do just that.”
“By committing $20 million toward direct rental support, we are expanding our commitment to provide relief for residents experiencing extreme financial burden as a result of COVID-19,” said Councilmember Evan Glass, a member of the Health and Human Services Committee and the lead on Homelessness and Vulnerable Communities. “These funds will be dispersed in an equitable manner, ensuring that residents in our communities most impacted by the pandemic are able to safely remain in their homes. The last thing we want is for anyone to become homeless during this emergency.”
The County received funding from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to address emergency needs from the impact of COVID-19. DHHS’s Services to End and Prevent Homelessness’ programs will use the funds to provide financial assistance at levels needed to prevent eviction and end homelessness. The programs evaluate the risks of eviction and homelessness concentrated in communities experiencing disproportionate impacts of COVID-19, prioritizing households determined to be at the greatest risk of eviction and loss of housing.
Eviction is not just a result of poverty, but a cause of it. Evictions cause instability for children, lead to depression, and a loss of possessions. The most damaging effect of evictions results in poor rental history which prevents households from relocating to safe and decent housing.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused severe income loss and economic distress for many households in Montgomery County and low- and moderate-income rental households have been disproportionately impacted. The number of rental households that are delinquent in rent payments has risen dramatically since the start of the COVID-19 emergency. As the Maryland courts reopen and begin hearing cases, renters face increasing risk of eviction for nonpayment of rent. While the Governor’s moratorium on evictions related to a substantial loss of income due to COVID-19 is still in effect, the burden of proof is now on the households to participate in court proceedings and demonstrate this need.