With rent and mortgage due at the beginning of April, researchers anticipate more Marylanders will need help paying for their housing as they suffer the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic and related business shutdowns.
Maryland courts have suspended evictions and foreclosures, meaning landlords cannot start the eviction process. However, residents still will owe rent payments, and researchers tracking calls to help lines across the United States say requests for rent assistance have increased since the pandemic began.
Matthew Kreuter, a professor of public health at Washington University in St. Louis, and his team track calls to Maryland’s 211 information and referral help line.
Kreuter said they found requests for rent assistance referrals in Maryland were up 151% this year from 2019 as COVID-19 became a pandemic. Maryland had 1,038 requests for rent assistance from March 12 to March 29 this year, compared with 413 requests during that period last year.
Most requests are coming from Baltimore City (196) and County (162), followed by Prince George’s (158), Montgomery (104) and Anne Arundel (53), Kreuter said. The researchers from 211 Counts and Washington University in St. Louis expect that requests could increase even further over time.
The U.S. Department of Labor reported last week that a record 3.3 million Americans, including 42,000 Marylanders, applied for unemployment benefits. But regulators and organizations say they’re ready to help people pay their mortgage or rent.
Here’s a list of resources for homeowners, renters and the owners of small businesses or nonprofits who may be feeling the pinch.
Resources for homeowners
Homeowners need to contact their mortgage servicer to see if they qualify for a mortgage relief program. See your most recent monthly statement for your mortgage lender or servicer’s website and consumer contact information. If you do not have your statement, use the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System to search for the company by name.
Expect long waiting times as servicers are likely dealing with many inquiries at this time. Have your loan statement ready and know how much your income has been reduced and what your weekly unemployment benefits are.
If you have an inquiry or complaint about a mortgage lender or servicer, contact the Maryland Department of Labor by email at DLFRComplaints-LABOR@maryland.gov or by phone at 410-230-6077. The Maryland HOPE Initiative (Home Owners Preserving Equity) also has resources to help you keep your home. Call HOPE at 1-877-462-7555.
Under the $2 trillion coronavirus response bill signed by President Donald Trump last week, homeowners with federally backed mortgage loans can request payments be postponed for up to 180 days. Homeowners can then request a second 180 postponement, if needed.
Resources for renters
Renters should call their landlords to discuss their payment options. The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will offer multifamily property owners mortgage forbearance if they suspend evictions for renters unable to pay rent due to the coronavirus.
The $2 trillion coronavirus response bill provides 120 days of eviction relief for people in federally-funded housing. This means landlords may not charge tenants late fees for delayed payments. The new law also provides additional dollars to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund housing vouchers and rent assistance, so tenants should speak with their local housing agency to discuss their options.
The Fair Housing Action Center of Maryland also created a list of resources for renters seeking financial assistance.
Anne Arundel County and Annapolis:
- Emergency Assistance to Families with Children - Annapolis: 410-269-4500
- North County Emergency Outreach Network: 410-766-1826
- Salvation Army - Annapolis: 410-263-4091
- Salvation Army - Glen Burnie: 410-768-0477
- Emergency Assistance to Families with Children - Glen Burnie: 410-269-4500
- Anne Arundel County Community Action: 410-626-1900
- Franciscan Center: 410-467-5340
- HealthCare Access Maryland (HCAM): 410-649-0529
- American Legion Department of MD State Headquarters: 410-752-1405, 800-433-3318
- New Shiloh Baptist Church: 410-523-5306
- All Saints Church: 410-542-0445
- Mount Moriah Baptist: 410-945-3575
- New Creation Christian Church Love Outreach Ministry: 410-488-5653
- Paul’s Place: 410-625-0775
- Wallbrook Vicinity Churches Assistance Ministry: 410-383-1525
- Zion Baptist Church: 410-837-4181
- St. Anthony of Padua: 410-488-9918
- Mercy Supportive Housing Program: 410-675-2125
- Salvation Army Family Service Center: 410-783-2920
- City Temple Outreach: 410-383-8040, 410-462-4800
- Friendship Outreach Center: 410-444-1595
- Bon Secours Community Works: 410-362-3808
- Baltimore City District Court — Eviction Prevention Program: 410-878-8650
- St Vincent de Paul — The Samaritan Center: 667-600-3700 ext. 1
- Community Action Network: 410-285-4674 ext. 111 or 123
- Maryland Kidney Foundation: 410-494-8545 for assistance to Maryland residents diagnosed with kidney conditions
- Harford Community Action Agency: 443-456-3629
- Salvation Army: 410-939-3535
- St. Vincent de Paul Outreach: 410-642-3588
- Aberdeen Bible Church: 410-272-3278
- Community Action Council of Howard County: 410-313-6440
- Community Action Council of Howard County (Laurel Residents Only): 410-313-0220
- Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services (Zip codes 20707, 20708, 20723, and 20724 only): 301-776-0442
United Way of Central Maryland is collecting donations to help people cover rent.
Small business owners and nonprofits
Maryland Secretary of Commerce Kelly M. Schulz last week said small businesses statewide can apply for disaster relief loans through the federal Small Business Administration.
The Maryland Department of Commerce is accepting applications for emergency relief funds, too. The state program will provide up to $10,000 in grant funding for businesses and nonprofits with 50 or fewer employees. Funding also is being set aside specifically for nonprofits.
Schulz said small businesses also can apply for a $50,000 loan from the state commerce department. Businesses can use these resources to pay their employees, Schulz said.
Baltimore Sun reporter Hallie Miller contributed to this article.