On September 30th, the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) announced $135 million will be made available to assist 15,000 renters affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds will be distributed through DHCD’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program with $65.7 million in state program spending and $69.4 million in direct relief apportioned by local jurisdiction.
DHCD elaborated on the program’s focus in a press release:
“The basis of our program, which was built in consultation with a bipartisan workgroup, has been to ensure that rental assistance is provided in an equitable way, with low barriers and a local focus,” said Secretary Kenneth C. Holt. “Our approach means that there is a long-term sustainability to the program, all while evictions are at record lows compared to before the pandemic.”
As reported by Maryland Matters, fair housing advocates are requesting additional relief through the reinstatement of expired eviction protections. On Friday, October 1st, several advocates protested ongoing evictions, noting delayed rental assistance payments. DHCD cites data showing rental assistance spending increased by more than 60 percent from July to August. A recent Maryland Multi-Housing Association survey states that approximately 17 percent of rental households are currently behind on multiple months of rent, down from 42 percent at the height of the pandemic.
For additional information regarding applying for rental assistance, visit rentrelief.maryland.gov or call 877-546-5595.