BMC’s Housing Policy Coordinator, Dan Pontious, joined Delegate Brooke Lierman, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman, Public Justice Center Attorney Charisse Lue and VP of Pennrose Properties and president of the Maryland Affordable Housing Coalition Ivy Dench-Carter for a May 28 discussion on housing Marylanders during and after COVID-19.
The “Briefing with Brooke” presented a current state of affairs and update on efforts concerning affordable housing, eviction prevention and sustainability of housing for modest-income Marylanders as the threat of evictions and foreclosures loom in the wake of COVID-19.
Delegate Lierman set the stage for the conversation with a brief introduction to County Executive Pittman, a member of BMC’s board of directors. In his briefing, Pittman explained the eviction prevention and rental assistance program for Anne Arundel County, which is funded by a combination of local funds and resources made available to local and state governments by the recent federal CARES Act. Residents must provide documentation that shows they are facing eviction and have had a loss of income. Funds through this program are submitted directly to property owners or managers to cover rent. The County has received more than 750 calls for assistance already.
Pontious spoke about BMC’s efforts working with Anne Arundel and other Baltimore-area jurisdictions to urge the State via an April 8 letter to allocate its own CARES Act funds toward helping renters and homeowners in Maryland. He also emphasized the scope of the economic threat COVID-19 presents. When renters cannot pay rent, they lose their homes and that loss of income hurts the ability of many property owners to pay their mortgages. Pontious warned that with so many people effected, the pandemic has the potential to trigger a record-breaking housing and economic crisis.
The briefing was a lively discussion that also addressed housing inequities, eviction rates, tenants’ right to counsel in housing court and more. In lieu of a statewide solution, many jurisdictions have taken the lead in preventing the spread of disease by helping residents remain safely in their homes during this public health crisis.
BMC continues to be a resource for the region. As discussed in the briefing, we look forward to continued information-sharing and learning among our local governments and housing agencies who are leading the housing response on COVID-19. We will continue to work with them to encourage State support of these crucial efforts.