Rockville, MD – In Maryland, the beginning of April brings an onslaught of nerves and panic as, like clockwork, rent and bill payments add up even as paychecks come to a halt. It is unacceptable that during a national pandemic, when staying at home could save your life and the lives of millions, that there are not more statewide measures to ensure housing stability for renters. The Montgomery County Young Democrats urge Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to develop rent relief initiatives for those unemployed or affected by the Coronavirus.
In the past few weeks alone, over 84,000 Marylanders were forced to file for unemployment, and this number will continue to rise as businesses remain closed indefinitely. The most recent stimulus package approved by the federal government is a good start, but is not enough for struggling renters. The $1,200 check for each adult and $500 for each child does not cover even one month of expenses for most. Additionally, college-aged dependents are not eligible for this relief. Considering that Maryland has a cost of living well above the national average, the current federal measures are not enough.
Under the Governor’s recent executive order, landlords can seek mortgage relief as seventy of the largest banks, credit unions, mortgage lenders, state agencies, and financial agencies, and institutions have agreed to provide flexibility to borrowers. Mortgage holders are eligible for a 90 day forbearance. Additionally, late fees for missed mortgage payments will not be charged and negative information will not be sent to credit bureaus. Mortgage relief options are essential but relief needs to be extended to renters as well.
The moratorium on evictions was a critical first step to protect at-risk renters from being displaced, but without additional guidance from the state, landlords can still choose to deny any relief to their tenants. As unemployment rises, unpaid rent accrues, and panic around the virus continues, it will be the most vulnerable and underserved communities that suffer the most without aid and protection from the government.
During this time of crisis we look to the Governor to protect Marylanders against amounting financial calamity. We respectfully ask Governor Hogan to take action and develop rent relief initiatives for those unemployed or affected by COVID-19, so that vulnerable residents will not be displaced due to insurmountable debt once the State of Emergency ends.