Mayor Young Announces $30 Million Eviction Prevention Program to Keep Baltimore Families in Their Homes as Growing Rental Crisis Looms
With eviction moratorium lifted, rent court reopening and evictions expected to spike, city offers relief for families having to choose among basic needs
BALTIMORE, MD. — Today, the Baltimore City Board of Estimates approved and Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young announced an expanded rental assistance package to help keep Baltimore City residents in their homes. Slated for launch in late September, the $30 million Eviction Prevention program builds on the city’s earlier Temporary Rent Support program to provide more comprehensive and extended support for families as the costs of the coronavirus pandemic, now six months in, continue to mount.
The financial fallout of COVID-19 on families is forcing many to choose between basic needs and prioritize some expenses over others: The percentage of residents receiving food stamps jumped from 25% to 33% from March to June, while the percentage of residents falling behind on rent during that time nearly tripled, from 10% to 28%.
The Eviction Prevention program responds to this deepening need by providing assistance with past-due rent and utilities, relocation and legal services, and case management to connect families to additional, non-housing resources and support their move toward financial stability—a comprehensive set of resources amassed to help keep residents financially whole and in their homes, and to help tenants and landlords alike avoid costly and drawn-out court proceedings.
“The impact of COVID-19 on Baltimore families is vast and becoming increasingly complex when it comes to rental housing because it affects both tenants and landlords, a majority of which are, themselves, families struggling to make ends meet,” said Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young. “We as a city are committed to doing everything possible to connect our residents to the critical resources they need to avoid eviction and to partner with landlords to get in front of the eviction process and work with tenants to better ensure payment of rent. Together we can—and will—prevent thousands of evictions and avoid a future of homelessness for thousands of residents in the months to come.”
The city will invest an initial $29.8 million in the Eviction Prevention program, drawing on a mix of mostly federal COVID relief funds leveraged across multiple city agencies:
- $17.06 million in federal CARES Act community development and housing funds
– $12.35 million—Department of Housing and Community Development
– $1 million—Baltimore City Community Action Partnership (CAP) in the Mayor’s Office of Children & Family Success
– $3.7 million—Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services
- $10 million as a portion of the City of Baltimore’s general CARES Act allocation
- $2.75 million in city funds through the Affordable Housing Trust Fund
The program will be administered by the Mayor’s Office of Children & Family Success through its CAP centers. And while planned initially as a two-year effort, the city will seek additional resources as needed, given the uncertain course of COVID-19 and its impact.
“We have heard from families in recent weeks that they are struggling financially on many levels right now, and the Eviction Prevention program offers significant relief on what is for many households the single largest monthly expense: rent,” said Tisha Edwards, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Children & Family Success. “Coupled with utility assistance, case management, and other resources available through our CAP centers, this effort is designed to really support families in their effort to achieve a measure of financial stability in an incredibly unstable time.”
On June 29, Mayor Young announced a Temporary Rent Support program and a $15 million commitment to jump-start a longer-term eviction prevention effort for Baltimore residents struggling to pay rent as a result of COVID-19. Designed to help renters get current on their April, May, and June rents and bring near-term stability to the city’s rental market, the Temporary Rent Support program was a short-term emergency initiative that was limited in reach: The city is still processing applications but expects it will assist about 1,000 households through the initial program.
With a temporary moratorium on evictions due to lift July 30 and rent court resuming operations August 31, the city quickly pivoted toward developing a longer-term program with much greater reach to meet the growing need in the months ahead. Leveraging the balance of its initial $15 million allocation, the city identified additional funds to support a four-pronged comprehensive Eviction Prevention program:
- Financial assistance to cover past-due bills and up to six months of back rent
- Relocation assistance—both financial and logistical—for tenants who are evicted or forced to leave an inhabitable unit
- Legal assistance for tenants facing eviction proceedings
- Case management to connect households to additional resources and assist them generally through this difficult time
“With the economic impact of COVID-19 continuing, and delinquency rates at more than twice the normal level among renters, it was clear we needed to bring more relief,” said Acting Housing Commissioner Alice Kennedy. “This Eviction Prevention program is a true citywide response to an unprecedented crisis, and with it we are building a foundation of resources and collaboration that will serve our city over the long term.”
The program is open to everyone, regardless of immigration status, but it does come with income-related eligibility criteria. Qualifying residents must:
- Have a household income of 50% or less of the average medium income
- Demonstrate a COVID-19-related financial impact
- Provide proof of pending eviction proceedings
Now working through the final particulars, the city will launch the program later this month. Meantime, residents can find what they need to apply at bmorechildren.com.