Baltimore City renters who have lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic can apply for rent support from July 1 through July 10 on the city’s website.
The COVID-19 Temporary Rent Support program is available for tenants who rent an apartment or house in Baltimore City.
“Like millions of families across the country, many Baltimore families are struggling to pay rent and have faced record unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said in a statement. “With this program, along with the support aimed at overall homelessness prevention, we will serve low-income households facing financial hardship or loss of income and prevent a wave of evictions during this pandemic.”
To be eligible for the city’s rent support program, tenants must have a valid and current lease signed by their landlord or documentation of a tenancy agreement, and be up to date on rent payments up until March 31. Their landlord must also have a city rental property license that is valid from April 1 through June 30.
Applicants must also have a household income no greater than $36,400 for a one-person household; $41,600 for two people; $46,800 for three people; $52,000 for four people; $56,200 for five people; $60,350 for six people; $64,500 for seven people; and $68,650 for eight people.
Renters do not need to be diagnosed with COVID-19 to be eligible for the program.
People are not eligible for the program if they live in public housing; receive other government rental assistance, such as Section 8 or Housing Choice Vouchers; live in a state-assisted building; have unpaid rent from before April; or are being evicted for missing rent payments before the pandemic.
Baltimore City Housing Commissioner Michael Braverman said that the city has been working with tenant advocates, community partners and landlords to develop the program over the past several weeks.
“As a city, we’ve been able to assemble a range of resources for both rent support and homeless prevention with the shared objective of mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on tenants’ ability to pay rent and the cascading effects of eviction,” Braverman said in a statement.
Through the program, the city will make payments of up to 80 percent of contract rent on the behalf of tenants whose applications are accepted. Tenants who are receiving unemployment must contribute some of their benefits to paying back rent for April, May and June.
Applicants must provide a copy of their lease or month-to-month agreement signed by their landlord. They must also provide photo identification for all names on the lease, and proof of income for all adult members of the household from before the pandemic.
They also need to submit information about their coronavirus-related income loss, an Unemployment Notice of Benefits Eligibility Letter if they received one, and information about unemployment benefits filings for other members of the household.
The applicant’s landlord must agree to waive late fees, interest and penalties for back rent between April 1 and June 30; and not pursue eviction related to the tenant not paying rent for April through August.
The program will be paid for through Community Development Block Grant funds with $13.1 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, according to a news release from the city.
The city’s homelessness prevention program is also putting $3 million from an COVID-19 Emergency Solutions Grant toward rent payments. It also expects to receive $2.75 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund Commission to help renters who are facing hardship, but who are not eligible for the Temporary Rent Support program.
Due to limited funding, not every eligible household may receive assistance from the program, officials said.
The program will prioritize households with at least one member who is age 60 years or older, at least one child under 18 years old, three or more people in the household, and/or no household members approved for unemployment benefits.
People can call (410) 396-3023 for any questions about the application.
Young said his administration is also working to address long-term housing instability in Baltimore City with a “more robust tenant-based eviction prevention program.”