(July 31, 2020) Although eight Maryland counties received state funding to help prevent people from being evicted from their homes during the economic stress caused by covid-19’s rampage, Worcester County was not only wasn’t on the list, it wasn’t considered.
Weston Young, assistant chief administrative officer, told county commissioners last Tuesday this was because county staff members never saw the application for the community block development grant.
On Friday, July 3, Gov. Larry Hogan announced that $30 million would be distributed to Maryland counties to keep residents from eviction. Last Friday, Hogan’s administration started accepting applications for $10 million in relief funding for Marylanders residing in units funded by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.
These actions were in response to the massive unemployment crisis that was caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The federal moratorium on evictions expired last Saturday. Though Hogan’s moratorium on evictions is still in place, it does require proof of financial hardship caused by covid-19.
On Thursday, July 24, Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh sent a letter to the Court of Appeals and District Court of Maryland to request an extension on the moratorium and debt collection cases until Jan. 31, 2021. In his letter, Frosh said that many Marylander’s financial situation had not changed, rent assistance is limited and that the effects of the pandemic disproportionately affect communities of color.
During the commissioner’s meeting, Young said community block development staff started looking into the grant funding in early July.
“We reached out to the governor’s office and we found out that they had already made an award,” Young said. “Wicomico got a million, Somerset got $100,000. It wasn’t on our radar and we couldn’t find where we missed it.”
Young emphasized that the next round of funding, which will be distributed at an undetermined date next month, is now on their radar. He added that there will be an informational meeting about the funding on Aug. 18.
“We’ve spoken with social services, and Diakonia as well, as potential sub-recipients of this money,” Young said. “We plan to go after it on the next round.”
Owen McEvoy, director of public information for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, said the funding is allocated based on how much the county requests and what the county need is and the funds available.
“We’ll be using the same evaluation criteria next time,” McEvoy said. “We are still finalizing the second rounds timetable.”
Grace Masten, broker and owner of Seagrace at North Beach Realtors and a member of the board of directors of the Coastal Association of Realtors, said all her tenants are paying rent and nobody seems in danger of eviction.
“The whole thing is communication,” Masten said. “You communicate with the tenants, you express your expectations and work with them.”
Debbie Hileman, broker and owner of Hileman Real Estate, also has no tenants in danger of eviction. She said she could only speak for Hileman and didn’t know if others were having similar experiences for tenants during covid-19.
“We’ve been working with each of the individuals and everybody seems to be doing the right thing,” Hileman said.