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50 Democratic lawmakers call on Hogan to cancel rent and mortgage payments for Marylanders hurt by pandemic

Fifty Maryland lawmakers are calling on Gov. Larry Hogan to cancel rent and mortgage payments in the state for residents and businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. A March 26, 2020, photo shows a leasing sign along a row of apartments in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Fifty Maryland lawmakers are calling on Gov. Larry Hogan to cancel rent and mortgage payments in the state for residents and businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. A March 26, 2020, photo shows a leasing sign along a row of apartments in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Carline Jean / Sun Sentinel)

Fifty Maryland lawmakers are calling on Gov. Larry Hogan to cancel rent and mortgage payments in the state for residents and businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter sent Wednesday to Hogan, the 50 Democratic lawmakers thanked the Republican governor for the actions he’s taken during the pandemic to close businesses and limit gatherings, which they said have saved “countless” lives.

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But they said the shutdown orders to slow the spread of the virus will cause “economic hardship on millions of Marylanders for months and years to come.”

"Bold action is necessary to mitigate this financial devastation,” states the letter, written by Del. Jheanelle Wilkins of Montgomery County and signed by 49 other delegates. “We therefore urge you to implement aggressive housing relief measures, such as cancelling rent and mortgage payments for businesses and residents affected by COVID-19.”

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Hogan has already signed an executive order halting evictions and foreclosures during the pandemic. But Wilkins and the other lawmakers said Marylanders could still face deep financial problems if they are expected to pay for rent or mortgage payments missed during the crisis.

“In addition to rent and mortgage cancellation, we urge you to take executive action to require renewal of expiring leases, prohibit rent increases and late fees, and require that landlords negotiate reasonable, long-term payment plans. Finally, the undersigned urge the creation of a robust housing relief fund for renters and homeowners alike,” the lawmakers wrote.

Mike Ricci, a spokesman for Hogan, said the administration appreciates the “ideas and input” from the lawmakers.

“Back in mid-March, the governor issued orders prohibiting evictions and utility shutoffs, and he has extended those orders to June 1,” Ricci said. "He also enacted a financial relief package to stop foreclosures and prohibit repossessions, and worked with banks across the state to provide financial relief to borrowers. We continue to explore ways to help Marylanders get back on their feet as we plan for the recovery.”

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