More than $60 million will soon be available to Montgomery County residents and businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
County Executive Marc Elrich said during a news briefing Wednesday that more than 4,500 households have applied for $59 million in rental assistance last month.
He added that the county expects to soon receive another $28 million from the state, as well as $33 million under the federal American Rescue Plan, a coronavirus relief bill Congress passed in early March.
The county has been offering rental relief funds multiple times during the pandemic. Officials are currently in the third round of rounding. Last month, $31 million in federal funds and $28 million funds was announced.
County officials previously approved grant funds for not only rental relief, but also to help businesses recover lost revenue due to the pandemic. The $61 million in additional funding that Elrich announced Wednesday would solely be used for rental assistance for businesses and residents, with guidelines that have been set since near the start of the pandemic.
From that money, eligible tenants can receive up to $12,000. More assistance could be available for those earning less than 30% of the median area income.
To apply, residents must prove a loss of work due to the coronavirus, owe at least $1,000 to their landlord and have lived in Montgomery County since at least August of last year.
Residents also must show they have earned 50% or less than the area median income during the past 30 days. They do not need to prove citizenship or provide a Social Security number, but they must have:
- Photo identification
- Proof of residency
- Income verification
Elrich said Wednesday that he is watching closely to see if Gov. Larry Hogan would extend the state’s eviction moratorium, especially when Hogan ends the state of emergency.
Elrich hopes the money will help residents still affected by the pandemic.
“If we can get this message out to tenants and get them to apply, and if landlords work with their tenants to get them to apply, I think we can go a long way to forestalling some of the evictions,” he said.
There is also a challenge when tenants fail to show up for eviction hearings. Court observers previously reported that only 3% of tenants would show up to hearings, before the pandemic; now, that figure is about 20%, Elrich said.
The county executive said the process can be intimidating — many people who could get relief weren’t aware of state and federal eviction moratoriums.
“We’re doubling down on our messaging. We’re using all of our nonprofit partners to get to the diverse communities out there,” Elrich said.
If tenants can bring the proper documentation to eviction hearings, it gives them a chance at rent relief, he added.
There’s also an incentive for landlords to work with tenants to receive up to $1,000 a month for back rent, Elrich said. Landlords might not be able to recoup 100 percent of their losses, but it’s better than evicting their tenants.
“That’s another thing we need to double down on, is letting landlords understand, that if you evict somebody, you may be evicting someone who could work with us to get you the back rent, which you will not see if you evict them,” Elrich said. “So I think everybody has a reason to cooperate with each other.”
People can apply for rental assistance at http://www.mc311.com/rentrelief or by calling 240-777-0311.
Steve Bohnel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org