This is a guest post by Anna Levy, a member of JUFJ’s Montgomery County Leadership Council.
The $600 supplements to unemployment benefits ran out on July 31 with no sign of further relief from the U.S. Congress, along with the end of the federal moratorium on evictions, and the reopening of Maryland courts for eviction proceedings on July 25. Hundreds of thousands of Maryland renters are behind on their rent payments and in danger of losing their homes. JUFJ and our coalition partners continue to work to highlight the urgency of this situation and demand that Governor Hogan take action for renter relief.
On July 24, the day before the reopening of Maryland courts for eviction proceedings, JUFJ members joined CASA, Public Justice Center and other #CanceltheRent coalition partners, in person and virtually, to walk from the Annapolis District Courthouse to the Governor’s Mansion. Demonstrators highlighted the plight of hundreds of thousands of Marylanders who are unable to pay their rent and risk eviction and demand that Governor Hogan establish a statewide moratorium on evictions and provide additional rent assistance to ALL Maryland renters in need. Renters and landlords support the request for additional rent assistance.
Coalition partners, including JUFJ, have signed on to a letter to MD State Legislators to ask that they reconvene in a special session to address these and other emergency issues.
Current eviction prevention measures in Maryland expire 30 days after the expiration of the COVID-19 emergency, but it only covers those renters who can demonstrate to the Court that they are suffering significant financial impact related to the COVID-19 epidemic. Additionally, this policy does not cover renters whose landlords decide not to renew their leases, thus forcing renters to move out. We could begin to see a huge wave of evictions toward the end of August.
Montgomery County Council, last week, allocated $20 million in CAREs funds for renter relief as well as $2,025,000 to assist at-risk, affordable common ownership communities. But, this is not even enough to support just the Montgomery County residents who are behind in rent payments!
JUFJ coordinated several Tisha B’Av convenings, one of which was virtual, and focused on renters’ rights and the ongoing affordable housing and eviction crises. Participants mourned with those who have lost their homes. This very moving session was led by Jeremy Mendelson and Rabbi Daniel Burg.
Since we know that much of the decision making power around eviction protection and expanding rental assistance lies with Governor Hogan, we are asking everyone to fill out the latest housing action alert, if you haven’t yet sent this recently updated message, now is the perfect time!
Anna Levy is a member of JUFJ’s Montgomery County Leadership Council, as well as our Maryland statewide leadership team.