CONTACT: Sharon Goldsmith, Executive Director
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Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland Alarmed by Elimination of
Emergency Rental Assistance Programs in Maryland
Baltimore, MD – The Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland is deeply alarmed at the lack of funding for emergency rental assistance, particularly in light of the unprecedented challenges facing low-income families, families with children, and communities of color and the strong recommendations in favor of rental assistance funding found in the Moore-Miller Transition report. It is clear that post-pandemic recovery has not been equitable and that certain communities continue to feel the social and economic impacts of the pandemic with the most pressing issue being housing security. With over 106,000 households, from Garrett County to the Eastern Shore, currently behind on rent, and over 141,000 children in households behind on rent, emergency rental assistance is necessary to prevent a wave of evictions and homelessness across the state. Without adequate support, Black, Latino, and low-income families and communities will be pushed further into poverty and insecurity, exacerbating existing inequities and widening the gap between those who have access to stable housing and those who do not.
PBRC attorneys are in rent court every weekday working with clients who are experiencing housing instability. Many of these clients have paid their rent on time for years but fell behind during the COVID-19 pandemic due to illness, loss of work or the need to stay home with children who were out of school. While those clients may be working again now, their financial troubles are not over. With each timely rent payment being applied to a back balance due, they can never catch up. They continue to be assessed late fees and continue to have to take time off work to come to court. Emergency Rental Assistance has been a lifeline for many of our clients and is still desperately needed.
Maryland households currently have $265,600,000 in rent debt, which is a staggering amount that highlights the urgent need for financial support. By investing in emergency rental assistance, Maryland can help keep families housed and provide a safety net during these challenging times.
As an organization committed to promoting social justice and equity, PBRC urges Governor Moore, President Ferguson, and Speaker Jones to take immediate action to address this urgent issue and provide the funding necessary to keep Maryland families housed and secure. We must continue to work together to create a more just and equitable Maryland, that prioritizes the most vulnerable communities.
Read below for instructions on calling the Governor, General Assembly leadership, and Chairs of the key budget committees to make it clear that it is unacceptable for our state government to abandon this critical program and the thousands of Marylanders who will now be at risk of losing their homes.
Every single call makes a difference, so please share this action with others and urge them to make calls before this weekend!
Use the phone numbers and script below as a guide, but feel free to share any personal reasons for why you support the state funding emergency rental assistance. If someone from the office does not pick up, please leave a message.
Remember to thank the staff you talk to – they work hard and have fielded a lot of our calls!
Governor Wes Moore: 410-974-3901
Senate President Bill Ferguson: 410-841-3600
Speaker of the House Adrienne Jones: 410-841-3800
Senator Guy Guzzone (Chair of Budget and Taxation): 410-841-3572
Delegate Ben Barnes (Chair of Appropriations): 410-841-3046
Hi, my name is [name] and I live in [X county/city]. I’m calling to urge the [Governor/Senate President/Speaker/Chair] to include funding for emergency rental assistance in the FY24 budget to keep Marylanders housed. Without immediate action, more than 108,000 Maryland families, mostly people of color with children living with them, will be at high risk of eviction and the catastrophic consequences that come with that.
There’s currently NO money for emergency rental assistance to stop evictions in the FY24 budget, while at the same time, we have a historically high balance in the Rainy Day Fund that is twice our required balance. It is a rainy day for the thousands of Marylanders on the brink of losing their homes as they navigate a turbulent economy and massive rent inflation. If Maryland is serious about “Leaving No One Behind,” action must be taken to provide a safety net for renters. A financial setback should never end in a life-altering eviction.
[Please share here a reason that you personally care about preventing evictions.]
Thank you for your time and consideration. Please tell [Governor/Senate President/Speaker/Chair] to work diligently to identify funding for emergency rental assistance in the FY24 budget.