By Deborah Bailey,
Special to the AFRO
With rental rates skyrocketing and eviction rates ranking among the highest in the state, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and members of the County Council are looking toward sustainable solutions for the 40 percent of county residents who are renters. While officials come up with a plan, they are placing a temporary patch on skyrocketing rental price hikes.
Alsobrooks recently signed The Temporary Rent Stabilization Act (CB-007-2023), which will stop landlords from increasing tenant rental rates by more than three percent over a 12-month period.
The law goes into effect April 17, but will expire in one year. In the meantime, the County is hustling to get answers on rising rent rates, inflation and an increasing eviction rate. A working group has been created to study rent control and identify permanent solutions for addressing the rising cost of rental housing.
County Council member Krystal Oriadha (District 7), principal sponsor of the legislation, said the county must act now to keep rental prices within the reach.
“Residents are suffering because of rent increases. Rent stabilization creates stability so renters know that they are not going to wake up and their rent is doubled,” Oriadha said. “We want Prince Georgians to have access to affordable, habitable, and fair housing and this bill gets us closer to that goal.”
Close to 20 percent of Prince George’s County residents face severe housing problems, according to data from the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps.
The report defines severe housing problems as “housing inadequacies: overcrowding, high housing costs, lack of kitchen facilities or lack of plumbing facilities.”
Alsobrooks said the Rent Stabilization Act will give the County time to work out long-term solutions ensuring affordable housing for Prince George’s County residents.
“This legislation is extremely important to all of us. We refuse to let any Prince Georgian be priced out of their home, that’s what this is about,” said Alsobrooks at a press conference announcing the county’s plan to get ahead of rapidly rising rental prices.
The Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee (PHED), chaired by Councilwoman Jolene Ivey (District 5) proposed additional measures to help renters on Thursday March 16 at 10:00 am.
The Council’s proposed legislation included CB-023-2023 The Prince George’s County Rental Assistance Program and Rental Assistance Fund, providing rental assistance to certain residents and CB-024-2023 the Prince Georges Rental Assistance Act, preventing sudden increases/price gouging.
The measures passed in the committee.
Ivey doesn’t plan to stop supporting renters with legislative measures. The veteran legislator and County Councilwoman and her spouse, Congressman Glenn Ivey (D- Md- District 4), took their message directly to families at risk at an Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention workshop held recently at First Baptist Church of Highland Park.
With COVID-19 federal and state eviction moratoriums ending, more than 17,000 Marylanders are at risk of evictions, with the highest percentages of those in Prince George’s County, said Jolene Ivey.
“It turns out there is help available, but people didn’t seem to know about it,” Ivey said.
“I’ve never hosted or been at an event where people found such relief. Sometimes residents even found out they were told falsely that they were going to be evicted. People were relieved to be in a setting where they could get some straight answers about their situation,” Ivey concluded.
Although applications for The Emergency Rental Assistance Program are no longer being actively taken, Ivey indicated that funds may still exist. Ivey’s staff urged residents who could not attend the event to contact her office and stay connected for updates on support for renters.