Baltimore may still face a wave of evictions

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Houses on Malden Avenue. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/Frederic C. Chalafant

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may have ordered a moratorium on evictions through the end of this year to contain the spread of COVID-19. But housing advocates say that doesn’t mean Baltimore renters won’t face a mass eviction crisis.

“Unfortunately, a lot of people have already been harmed. And some people irrevocably harmed,” said Tisha Guthrie, a commissioner for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Guthrie said she saw evidence of two of her neighbors being evicted the day after the state’s moratorium on evictions expired July 31, but a full month before courts reopened to hear eviction cases on August 31.

“That was in one day from Saturday to Sunday,” Guthrie said. “All of their belongings, mattresses, everything on the street.”

Guthrie said Baltimore renters have been illegally evicted because they do not know their rights.

“Unfortunately here in Baltimore, the deck is stacked against renters,” she said. “Our rights just are violated, time and time again.”

The CDC’s moratorium on evictions took effect on Sept. 4. Guthrie said the moratorium shows that the CDC understands housing stability is a necessity for public health.

But Guthrie also said the moratorium may only be a band-aid solution because it doesn’t come with federal rental assistance. She said this could further damage the tenant-landlord relationship.

“Whenever a relationship is negatively impacted between two entities, the person who has the least power is the person who suffers the most,” she said.

Adam Skolnik is the executive director of the Maryland Multi-Housing Association, a trade group that represents property owners and landlords.

He said his members do not want to evict tenants and that it costs landlords a fortune when they do. He urged renters to talk with their landlords if they are struggling to pay rent.

“My prayer for those people who are in dire straits is communicate, communicate, communicate,” he said.

Read more at WYPR



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