Sen. Jill Carter (D-Baltimore City) said some Marylanders have expressed concern that they might be evicted from their homes during the coronavirus pandemic even though there are restrictions to protect people from being kicked out of their homes.
“There’s probably a fear that not all landlords will honor the moratorium….I think the other issue is that even though some people’s rent is being delayed-that if they’ve been unemployed and have not received their unemployment benefits-then they still will not be in a position to pay the current rent or the back rent. And, so, they’re worried that things aren’t going to line up and they’ll still be on the street,” Carter told MarylandReporter.com in a phone interview on Tuesday.
Carter elaborated on that point.
“There are a few constituents that have written about a fear of losing their home-whether it be rent or whether it be mortgage.”
The federal moratorium on evictions expires on July 25. Maryland’s moratorium on evictions will remain in place for the duration of the state emergency that Gov. Larry Hogan declared in March. Under the state’s moratorium rent is effectively frozen for tenants who can prove they are unable to pay due to economic hardships associated with the pandemic.
The Hogan administration has provided $30 million in eviction prevention assistance to help keep people in their homes. Many local jurisdictions have stepped up to the plate and are also providing rental assistance. They include Baltimore City and Howard County.
Carter said housing advocates have told her that about $400 million is needed to adequately address the problem. An estimated 330,000 Marylanders could be evicted by the end of year, according to a study by the Aspen Institute.
Maryland’s business leaders say renters are not the only ones who are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
“This legislation impacts landlords as many of them have loan payments and other financial obligations as well. This a situation that simply trickles down,” Howard County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Leonardo McClary said. “The tenant can’t pay the landlord which for some, will make it difficult for the landlord to pay its lender. It is a struggle all the way around. This is an unfortunate situation where there are no winners.”
“We have members who are landlords and tenants, some of whom have been able to operate during this entire time, and many who have not been able to,” Maryland Retailers Association president Cailey Locklair said. “This issue is one that needs to be threaded carefully to avoid the “haves and have nots” for obvious reasons. When businesses and people do not have jobs, they are unable to meet rent obligations, but this produces a domino effect with landlords who in turn do not have the income to do the same. Comprehensive plans must be put into place to protect both parties as protecting one and not the other causes an equal and/or unintended opposite reaction.”
There are 79,545 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland of Tuesday morning, according to the state’s Department of Health, and 3,272 people in Maryland have died from the virus.
Maryland has tested more than 979,000 people for COVID. The state’s positivity rate is below 4.5%.