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Montgomery County Council to Vote on County Executive's Request for $20M to Provide Additional Relief for Renters

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, July 21, 2020

            Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich today recommended that the County Council appropriate $20 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to expand rental assistance for eviction and homelessness prevention. Funds would expand the County’s eviction and homelessness prevention programs, including the COVID Rent Relief program administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), an effort originally spearheaded by Councilmember Evan Glass.

           “With the Courts lifting the stay on evictions after July 25 and the schedule to hear nonpayment of rent cases after August 31, I believe it is imperative that we support tenants using all our resources,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “I recognize that $20 million is not the full amount we will need, but it represents a significant initial allotment to meet immediate challenges.”

            “This financial assistance is imperative to ensure that renters in our community can continue to stay in their homes,” said Council President Sidney Katz. “We must help to protect renters from eviction, and I know that these funds will do just that.”

            “Many renters are struggling to stay in their homes, and with the eviction moratorium about to be lifted, renters are extremely anxious. This emergency funding will provide much needed relief to ensure that vulnerable residents are safely able to stay in their homes during this pandemic,” said Councilmember Evan Glass, a member of the Health & Human Services Committee and the Council’s lead for Homelessness and Vulnerable Communities. “By focusing this rental assistance program on communities that have been hardest hit by COVID-19, we are applying an important equity lens to ensure that we directly support those most in need.”

            The County received funding from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to address emergency needs from the impact of COVID-19. DHHS’s Services to End and Prevent Homelessness’ programs will use the funds to provide financial assistance at levels needed to prevent eviction and end homelessness. The programs evaluate the risks of eviction and homelessness concentrated in communities experiencing disproportionate impacts of COVID-19, prioritizing households determined to be at the greatest risk of eviction and loss of housing. Research has shown that low-income women of color are most at risk of eviction.

            Eviction is not just a result of poverty, but a cause of it. Evictions cause instability for children, lead to depression, and a loss of possessions. The most damaging effect of evictions results in poor rental history which prevents households from relocating to safe and decent housing.

            The COVID-19 pandemic has caused severe income loss and economic distress for many households in Montgomery County and low- and moderate-income rental households have been disproportionately impacted.  The number of rental households that are delinquent in rent payments has risen dramatically since the start of the COVID-19 emergency.  Based on a County survey, approximately 10 percent of rental households are currently delinquent on rent payments due to impacts of COVID-19. As the Maryland Courts reopen and begin hearing cases, renters face increasing risk of eviction for nonpayment of rent. While the Governor’s moratorium on evictions related to a substantial loss of income due to COVID-19 is still in effect, the burden of proof is now on the households to participate in Court proceedings and demonstrate this need.

            Montgomery County has existing programs that provide critical support for tenants to avoid eviction and maintain housing; but the programs lack sufficient funds to address the breadth of the current emergency. This allocation will enable thousands more households to receive support.

            The legislation was introduced today and will be voted on by the County Council next week before the Council goes on recess.

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Release ID: 20-390
Media Contact: Mary Anderson 301-529-7669