Eviction protections for tenants from Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) phased out on Sunday, but Baltimore City Council members say those protections should remain in place while the city distributes rent relief funding.
Baltimore City Council members passed a resolution calling on Hogan to extend those protections at their Monday meeting. Hogan’s order allowed tenants an affirmative defense when faced with a failure-to-pay rent eviction case. Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an eviction protection order that is currently in place for jurisdictions with substantial or high levels of COVID-19 transmission.
Amid the surge of the highly contagious delta variant, each of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions currently have substantial or high levels of transmission, according to CDC data. The national order is being challenged in court.
“Baltimore has millions of dollars coming to us from the state and federal governments to help renters pay their rent. We need more time and tools to distribute the funds. This resolution calls on Governor Hogan to do the right thing,” Councilmember Odette Ramos, the lead sponsor of the resolution, said in a release.
There are roughly 128,000 households behind on rent in Maryland, according to estimates from the National Equity Atlas. About 78% of those households include people of color, according to the estimates, and 62% have an annual income of less than $50,000.
The city has already distributed millions in rent relief funding, and anticipates millions more in federal and state relief funding. Baltimore City Council members have already passed legislation to ensure better protections for tenants, including a “just cause” bill that requires landlords to provide a codified reason when not renewing a tenant’s lease, The Baltimore Sun reported.
“Baltimore City is expecting substantial funding to assist our families but for many reasons rental assistance has been slow to reach households,” the resolution reads. “Our City agencies are diligently working on building staff capacity, creating online portals, and conducting outreach to inform families and households about resources and assistance.”
City residents were encouraged to apply for the Baltimore eviction prevention program online or by calling 410-396-5555.
For a full list of local rent relief programs throughout the state, click here.