SILVER SPRING, Md. — With more than 100,000 Marylanders behind on rent, housing advocates are urging members of the General Assembly and Gov. Larry Hogan to follow the lead of other state lawmakers and extend eviction protections to prevent a looming crisis.
Maryland’s safeguards ended in August, just after the Supreme Court blocked President Joe Biden’s plan to expand the eviction moratorium until October.
Matthew Losak, executive director of the Montgomery County Renters Alliance, said federal rental funds have been slow to get to tenants, and only about 40% of residents in need have received it.
He thinks if the rest don’t get immediate support, the impact on communities will be devastating.
“We have to think about eviction in terms of social safety net costs,” Losak outlined. “In terms of increased crime, homelessness, what it means for children who have to move from school to school whose academic achievement is severely impacted.”
New York and Illinois have put eviction protections in place since the Supreme Court ruling. To get help in Maryland, residents can visit the state Department of Housing and Community Development website.
Losak pointed out Maryland’s working poor were hit hard by the pandemic and still are struggling to get back on their feet. In Montgomery County, the biggest county in the state, the pace of providing eviction aid is faster than in other areas.
He said in Maryland as a whole, it is not fast enough to keep up.
“We believe the capacity of the operation needs to increase in order to get aid to people early,” Losak urged. “We do not understand and don’t believe that it makes any sense at all to wait for people to get in crisis before you give them aid.”
About 117,000 Maryland renters are behind on monthly payments, almost 20,000 in Montgomery County, according to the National Equity Atlas. People of color make up approximately 75% of Marylanders behind on rent.