DHCD to Counties: Here’s What We’re Doing to Tackle COVID-19 Housing Issues

final-4896425_1920 - pixabay - 6.25.20In a letter to county leadership, the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) shares what actions it is taking to address COVID-19 related housing issues in response to county concerns that more is needed. 

The June 25 letter from DHCD to county leadership discusses the Department’s actions related to affordable housing and assisted rental housing, homelessness, and homeownership.

In regards to affordable housing and assisted rental housing:

We have worked with properties in our portfolio to allow them to access reserve funds and have permitted forbearance on Departmental debt obligations to provide cushion for rent delinquency revenue impacts and the increased expense of cleaning, disinfecting, and other COVID-related expenses. The Department is also in the process of further evaluating CARES Act funding, and other state and federal sources to support and expand statewide rental relief programs and assist counties in their efforts to prevent eviction.

In regards to homelessness:

The Department has also streamlined the application process for the $10.4 million in FY21 funding for the Homelessness Solutions Program and are in the process of doing the same for an additional $14.7 million in Emergency Solutions Grant program funds, so that they may be deployed as quickly as possible into the non-entitlement areas of the state that are administered by the agency.

In regards to homeownership hardships:

For homeowners experiencing hardship, the Department supports the activities of a network of housing counseling agencies with expertise assisting households at risk of foreclosure. Even in the midst of this crisis, the Maryland Mortgage Program (MMP) has continued to provide reliable mortgage products to home buyers.

The Department’s letter was in response to a June 11 letter from seven county executives to the Governor which applauded the State’s temporary eviction prohibition but urged the state to provide stronger statewide foreclosure and eviction prevention programs:

As the Maryland Judiciary and rest of our economy begin to open up, we anticipate increased pressure to remove that prohibition. Many tenants and homeowners are facing substantial late fees on rental and mortgage payments as well as the very
real threat of losing their homes when the moratorium is lifted.

Accordingly, we ask for your leadership to help design, implement, and expand programs that will provide needed relief to homeowners, renters, mortgage holders, and landlords to mitigate the substantial damage this crisis has inflicted on our communities. Throughout our state, homeless prevention programs were already over-capacity and with the need to adjust the physical spaces with social distancing guidelines, we have even fewer beds serving homeless populations than in pre-COVID times.

For more information:

DHCD Letter to County Leadership (June 25, 2020)

County Leadership Letter to Governor (June 10, 2020)

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