Friday, August 12 2022

Fair housing advocates gathered outside State House in Annapolis on Friday night to demand that Governor Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) restore protections against expired evictions.

CASA led a rally calling for the reinstatement of eviction protections in Annapolis on Friday evening. (Courtesy Maryland Matters / Bennett Leckrone)

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Fair housing advocates gathered outside State House in Annapolis on Friday night to demand that Governor Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) restore protections against expired evictions.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction protections in late August. Similar protections from Hogan ended in mid-August after the Maryland state of emergency expired.

At a rally on Friday night by CASA, the Mid-Atlantic’s largest immigrant advocacy organization, progressive lawmakers, fair housing advocates and tenants said those protections must be restored. Lawyers slept outside St. Anne’s Episcopal Church – across from the governor’s mansion – until Saturday morning to protest the evictions.

Some tenants who spoke at the rally described long waits for rent relief and financial hardship during the pandemic. Cinthia Sanchez said she applied for relief funding with help from CASA in 2020, but it took several months for that help to arrive. She said she and her husband both lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

CASA member Javier Hurtado said he had also lost work due to the pandemic, but was unable to secure funding for rent relief.

State and local governments in Maryland have been distributing rent relief funds at an accelerated pace in recent months, but fair housing advocates have long said the money is not reaching tenants quickly enough to prevent evictions. Of the $ 401 million in Emergency Rent Assistance (ERA1) funding Maryland state and local governments received under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of Congress last year, $ 135 million had been distributed or were in the process of being released at the end of August.

There are 131,000 late-renting households in Maryland with an estimated total rent debt of $ 429 million, according to the National Equity Atlas, and about 80% of late-renting tenants in Maryland are people of color. .

Several Maryland lawmakers also called on Hogan to restore eviction protections and use federal relief funds to help tenants at Friday’s rally: Del. Wanika B. Fisher (D-Prince George’s) noted that one of his bills passed in the 2021 session, which seeks to fund access to a lawyer for tenants in eviction cases, no is still not funded.

A separate bill that would have increased court fees and summary eviction surcharges was not passed until the end of the 2021 session. Fisher said Hogan would have to use federal relief funds to pay for this access. to a lawyer. The bill to fund access to a lawyer wasn’t the only unsuccessful tenant protection measure in the 2021 session: Del’s legislation. Jheanelle K. Wilkins (D-Montgomery) reportedly extended tenant protection for months after the state of emergency, but similarly failed to pass Sine Die.

Of the. Vaughn Stewart (D-Montgomery) said Hogan should issue an order protecting people seeking rental assistance from eviction or requiring landlords to accept rent relief funding.

Stewart went on to say that if no eviction protection is in place, the General Assembly should adopt eviction protections when lawmakers return to Annapolis.

“We need to have the boldest tenant protections in the country this winter,” said Stewart.

Greenbelt Mayor Colin Byrd noted that his city and other local governments in Maryland have instituted protections for tenants, such as banning late fees, but said local governments cannot impose their own moratoria. on evictions. Byrd also said the pandemic was not over in Maryland as the highly transmissible delta variant continues to spread and evictions would worsen the spread of COVID-19.

“If we don’t get this vicious crisis under control, it will lead to more and more disease, more and more death and more and more pain from this pandemic,” Byrd said.

Of the. Gabriel Aevero (D-Montgomery) called allowing expulsion protections to expire “immoral” and said the General Assembly must also act on evictions.

“There is work to be done now and there is work to be done in the future,” he said. “Not only Governor Hogan, but also the General Assembly, could have done something and he can still do something. “

Montgomery County Council member William Jawando (D) also called on Hogan to restore eviction protections, and also said legislative leaders should convene a special session to pass protections for tenants who have no not crossed the finish line in 2021.


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