Staying Home: an ERAP Conversation at Winter #MACoCon

At the 2021 Winter MACo Conference, Maryland’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) took center stage, with multiple housing experts providing their thoughts.

Employment instability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in many Marylanders falling behind on rent. The State’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) was thought to be the perfect tool to prevent evictions, but many renters and landlords encountered delays in eligibility determinations and payments. Local housing and human services officials discussed their difficulties with, and lessons learned from, ongoing ERAP implementation. 

Speakers: 

  • Terry Hickey, Director, Baltimore County Department of Housing and Community Development   
  • Nancy Shockley, Director, Dorchester County Community Partnership for Children & Families     
  • Ryan Trout, Housing Program Manager, Frederick County Department of Housing and Community Development
  • Danielle Meister, Senior Policy Officer, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development 

Moderator: 

  • Sharon Green Middleton, Council Vice President, Baltimore City

Council Member Middleton, who chairs the Baltimore City Council’s Economic and Community Development Committee, introduced the members of the ERAP panel. Director Hickey, Baltimore County’s first Director of Housing and Community Development, provided a historical account of ERAP, including the many federal bills enabling its funding, as well as the program’s many deadlines and requirements. He also discussed Baltimore County’s ERAP implementation and suggested numerous lessons learned, including the need to employ multiple community outreach strategies, grow and evolve legal strategies, and increase focus on case management.

Director Shockley echoed many of the issues brought forth by Director Hickey and noted some troubling trends in Dorchester County. She said many landlords have been reluctant to take part in ERAP, tenants have not paid their share of rent, and many tenants are in unstable housing situations. Mr. Trout detailed Frederick County’s approach to reaching landlords and tenants, alike, to ensure they are informed and engaged with respect to ERAP. He mentioned numerous nonprofit community partnerships enabling both outreach and case management, altogether reducing the burden on Frederick County government.

Finally, Ms. Meister detailed Maryland’s efforts to ensure ERAP’s successful implementation across the state. She noted that the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development had three guiding principles regarding ERAP- ensuring that it is equitable, has low-barriers, and locally-driven. Moreover, she provided insight into the state’s ERAP-related outreach, challenges, and wins. Ms. Meister stated that evictions have steadily dropped off as ERAP has gained steamed.

More about MACo’s Winter Conference:

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