Wes Moore (Courtesy Photo)

By Demetrius Dillard
Special to the AFRO

Wes Moore, an author, entrepreneur and military veteran who recently launched his campaign to become the Maryland Democratic candidate for governor, has joined a list of statewide politicians, tenant rights supporters and housing advocates urging Gov. Larry Hogan to extend the state’s eviction moratorium.

About two months ago, the governor announced he would lift Maryland’s COVID-19 state of emergency effective July 1. The executive order was followed by an administrative 45-day grace period, which ends Aug. 15, meaning the temporary ban on evictions will expire for a substantial number of Maryland residents.

For weeks, leading political figures and fair housing advocates from some of the state’s largest jurisdictions, including Moore, have asked Hogan to institute a 90-to-120 day extension on all eviction moratoriums. However, no extension or executive action has been set in motion thus far, leaving thousands of Marylanders at risk of being evicted.

Housing is a fundamental human right, said Moore, who has devoted much of his professional career to fair housing and fighting against poverty. “He is also calling on a renewal of the state of emergency until it is abundantly clear that the region has emerged from the pandemic.” 

“I’m proud to join leading housing and tenant rights advocates in calling for Gov. Hogan to extend this eviction moratorium at least until the end of the year, and really until it is clear that COVID is under control across the state because right now there’s no evidence that that is the case,” said Moore, a former Robin Hood CEO and retired captain from the Army.

“I think he (Hogan) needs to renew it now because I think the conditions have changed and it justifies renewing the state of emergency, and with that the eviction moratorium. 

“The data regarding the vaccination rates and the spread of the Delta variant just make it clear that despite all our best wishes the pandemic is not over, and lifting the protections that so many Marlylanders have relied on is both premature and irresponsible.”

Maryland’s COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are constantly rising due to the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant, leading many to believe the state is not emerging from the pandemic. Overwhelming opposition to Hogan comes as the Maryland Department of Health reports more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases in the past day – the most since April.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced, Aug. 3, it will extend the federal eviction moratorium through Oct. 3 to allow “additional time for rent relief to reach renters and to further increase vaccination rates.” However, the federal eviction ban order only applies to “United States counties experiencing substantial and high levels of community transmission levels of” the coronavirus.

A report by Maryland Matters notes that there are roughly 129,000 Maryland households behind on rent, and despite the hundreds of millions of dollars the state received in rent relief, the funding has “been slow to get to tenants as emergency protections expire.”

At a Maryland General Assembly Environment and Transportation Committee meeting held in late July, Maryland District Court Judge John Morrissey said 4,500 evictions had been prohibited from March 2020 to May 2021 by federal and state moratoriums, and that he expected another 1,000 evictions to surface in the coming months. Those families will face eviction beginning Sunday without further action from Gov. Hogan.

“The state needs to continue to stand up and fight for families that need our support,” added Moore, a resident of North Baltimore who launched his gubernatorial campaign June 7.

“We’re hitting a situation right now where we have kids about to go back to school. We have new policies being put in place about mask mandates. So we’re very much in the middle of a trying time in our state.”

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