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Press Releases - County Council

Council calls for banks, financial institutions and public utilities to institute a 60-day moratorium on customer defaults

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 18, 2020

ROCKVILLE, Md., March 18, 2020 — The public health and safety of all residents is the Council’s top priority as we manage the response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The Council understands the dramatic financial losses that our residents, business owners and nonprofit organizations have already undertaken and will continue to experience as this situation continues. The Montgomery County Council stands ready to work with County Executive Marc Elrich, Governor Larry Hogan and our federal partners to provide the necessary resources to assist residents who have been laid off or are working reduced hours and small businesses that are already experiencing severe economic impacts because of the loss of business and decreased revenue.

Due to the Council’s limited statutory authority on banking and utility regulations, we are requesting that banks, financial institutions and public utilities institute a 60-day moratorium on customer defaults as a way to help ease some of the financial hardships that community members are experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many public utilities are offering payment assistance, suspending late fees and deferring disconnections for gas, electric and water services, and the Council encourages that these activities continue for at least 60 days. The Council further urges banks and other financial institutions to develop an emergency assistance plan, including fee waivers, loan modifications, payment deadline extensions, payroll advances, low-rate and zero-rate loans and other hardship accommodations.

“As a former small business owner, I know how important it is to have adequate resources even when times are good. In these most difficult and unprecedented times, this becomes even more critical,” said Council President Sidney Katz. “I am committed to working with COG (Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments), and our governmental partners to address these pressing issues.”

“We all must work together to support our loved ones and neighbors in this difficult time. County government will do everything it can to provide support to our residents and small businesses,” said Council Vice President Tom Hucker. “We are calling on the federal government and private partners to take emergency measures now to minimize the economic damage from this crisis.”

“Through this health crisis I have been working closely with our non-profit community to assist them with the challenges they and their many vulnerable clients face. It is imperative that these organizations are able to carry on their business and are given the financial leeway to continue their good work,” said Councilmember Gabe Albornoz, Chair of the Council’s Health and Human Services. “I hope our entire community will join together to make it through these days and weeks ahead.”

“These are unprecedented times. Montgomery County residents are nervous about the health of their loved ones, small businesses are nervous about being able to pay their employees, and nonprofit service providers are nervous about having the staff to ensure that our social safety net remains strong,” said Councilmember Evan Glass, Lead for Homelessness and Vulnerable Communities. “We must do everything we can to help small businesses, nonprofits and residents, and I call on banks and financial institutions to do the same. Our financial institutions must issue a 60-day debt payment moratorium to ease some of the pressure individuals and businesses are facing. We are all in this together.”

“This is a critical moment for our community to come together,” said Councilmember Hans Riemer, Chair of the Council’s Planning, Housing, and Economic Development Committee. “While we do what we must to control the spread of this disease, we must support our local businesses so we can bounce back when the danger is past. Creditors like banks and landlords need to do their part to be flexible and adapt to these unique circumstances.”

“This crisis offers us a unique opportunity to come together as a united community and support each other, especially the vulnerable among us,” said Councilmember Nancy Navarro, Chair of the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy. “I am committed to doing whatever is in my power, working with my colleagues, to seek relief for our residents.”

“During these critical days of mounting insecurity our nation is facing as we battle this disease, we need to ensure our community has all the opportunities afforded them to be able to weather this storm,” said Councilmember Craig Rice, Chair of the Council’s Education and Culture. “Encouraging default relief for an extension of time during this financial instability crisis is the right thing to do.”

“This is an unprecedented crisis that requires an unprecedented response at the federal, state, and local level -- to combat the immediate public health emergency before us, and to address the massive social and economic consequences that will result from the necessary but needed actions we are taking to flatten the curve,” said Councilmember Andrew Friedson.

“Our Residents and our small businesses will need time and assistance to recover from these unprecedented shut downs due to the COVID-19 virus. We must work together to rebuild during this time point for our local economy,” said Councilmember Will Jawando.

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Release ID: 20-098
Media Contact: Valeria Carranza 240-777-7954