United Way of Maryland helped more than 900 households in the state avoid evictions in January through its Strategic Targeted Eviction Prevention Program. (Adobe stock)
By Diane Bernard, Maryland News Connection
BALTIMORE, Md. – With the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium now set to end July 31, and with Maryland’s to expire in August, a group that helps stop evictions in the state is increasing support to Baltimore City and two more counties.
United Way of Central Maryland received $43 million in federal funding to work with county and city governments and landlords to pay up to 12 months of back rent for qualified residents.
Scott Gottbreht, associate vice president for homeless services at the United Way of Central Maryland, said the COVID crisis has left about 200,000 Marylanders facing immediate eviction this summer.
His group’s program expects to help households that are three or more months behind on rent.
“Our program is now also able to pay utilities under the federal law,” said Gottbreht. “That’s another thing in some of these big apartment complexes, the utilities are in the landlord’s name and they bill those to the tenant. So a tenant can be evicted from unpaid utilities just as much as they can be evicted for unpaid rent.”
He said tenants in Baltimore City and Baltimore, Harford and Howard counties who are behind on rent or utilities payments should contact their landlords to see if they’re participating in the United Way’s program for support.
Gottbreht said his group’s program bundles large numbers of past-due accounts to prevent evictions in bulk. Rather than require tenants to apply individually, as traditional eviction support services do, the program targets households in impoverished hotspots.
“Instead of waiting for them to come to us, we go to them and push the program out on them,” said Gottbreht. “Instead of having a system where the most well-resourced are able to access the funds, we create a system where we bring the program to vulnerable households and offer the program to the most vulnerable first.”
He said the funding infusion should bring eviction relief to more than 3,000 Maryland households.
The United Way of Maryland’s COVID-19 Impact Survey shows one of the top concerns for Maryland residents during the pandemic was housing, and almost 40% said they were struggling to make ends meet.