Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, County Council President Tom Hucker and Council Vice President Gabe Albornoz at a recent event joined to announce that COVID-19 Rent Relief Phase 3 is open for applications from County residents. There is $59 million available to help tenants who are behind on rent.
The funds, received from the U.S. Department of Treasury Emergency Rental Assistance Program, will provide up to $12,000 or 15 months of assistance to eligible households behind on rent due to COVID-related income loss.
Applicants can apply online, see frequently asked questions and get additional program details at www.mc311.com/rentrelief. People in households without Internet access or who need assistance completing the application can call 311 or 240-777-0311.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted the economic wellbeing of our poorest and most vulnerable renters and we must do everything in our power to keep them in their homes,” said County Executive Elrich. “This third phase of rental relief funds will help as we continue to make sure more money is on the way to these families. We are grateful to our Congressional Delegation and State Delegation, along with the Federal and State governments, for their financial support and assistance.”
The $59 million supplements the $21 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding the County has already dedicated to the COVID Rent Relief Program. The first two phases of the program have provided more than $16 million to date to more than 4,000 County households. Phase 3 funding includes $31 million in direct allocation to Montgomery County and $28 million from the State’s allocation to the County from the U.S. Department of Treasury.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated housing instability and many residents are in dire need of assistance," Council President Hucker said. "The only way to meet the needs of our tenants is through a collaborative effort with our federal and state lawmakers, nonprofit organizations and community advocates. The COVID-19 Rent Relief Program is a result of that collaborative effort and provides us another opportunity to help tenants stay in their homes."
The Rent Relief Program provides rent support to low-income households that have experienced income loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The County’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has continued to maintain an active waitlist and the process for requesting assistance has been streamlined since the first phase was introduced last year.
Approved households may receive up to $12,000 for rent arrears and a rent credit for future months, paid directly to the landlord. Final grant amounts will consider rental assistance already received from any local, State or Federal program. All assistance is based on the availability of funds. Households that have already received a COVID-19 Rent Relief Grant, a State-Assisted Housing Relief Program grant (through their property) or are housing voucher recipients are still eligible.
"This rental assistance will be a lifeline to so many of our residents who are struggling,” said Council Vice President Albornoz. “Ensuring that people have housing is critical to making sure that they emerge from this pandemic with a stronger future.”
County renters who request assistance from the COVID-19 Rent Relief Program must certify that the household has income under a certain amount; has lost income due to COVID-19; is behind in payment of at least $1,000 in rent; and that they have been a resident of Montgomery County since August 2020. Households may have formal or informal lease arrangements and can reapply for funds even if they already received assistance in earlier versions of the program.
Officials also discussed assistance available to renters who are behind on rent. Support organizations and legal aid are available to help tenants access protections against eviction actions, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Order and Governor’s Order against eviction which require that tenants attend Court and present evidence that they qualify for protection.
Tenants must show up and present evidence in court that they qualify for eviction moratorium protection. Support Organizations and Legal Aid lawyers are available ahead of time and at the courthouse. Maryland Courts reopened in April to hear thousands of eviction cases and renters need to act before they are called to court and need to attend Court. Information on legal aid and support organizations is available at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/renters. Renters facing an immediate loss of housing should also call 311 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to be connected with DHHS Housing Stabilization Services.