xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

With 200 families late on rent, Annapolis housing authority urges payment plans before eviction moratorium ends

Melissa Maddox-Evans, executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis, urged tenants who have a rent balance to either pay their back rent in full, submit an interim rent adjustment request or enter into a payment plan by the Oct. 9 deadline in a letter sent to residents Thursday.
Melissa Maddox-Evans, executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis, urged tenants who have a rent balance to either pay their back rent in full, submit an interim rent adjustment request or enter into a payment plan by the Oct. 9 deadline in a letter sent to residents Thursday. (Joshua McKerrow/Capital Gazette)

The Annapolis housing authority’s executive director is imploring more than 200 public housing families behind on their rent to enter into payment plans before the agency’s eviction moratorium lifts in November.

Melissa Maddox-Evans, executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis, urged 217 tenants who have a rent balance to either pay their back rent in full, submit an interim rent adjustment request or enter into a payment plan by the Oct. 9 deadline in a letter sent to residents Thursday.

Advertisement

Only nine families have approached the authority to enter into a payment plan, a “deeply concerning” sign, Maddox-Evans said Monday, given that there will not be another extension of the moratorium beyond Nov. 2.

The authority extended its rent eviction moratorium, in effect since March, to November to aid residents, many of whom have lost their jobs, during the coronavirus pandemic. The housing authority has continued to pursue evictions for households with health and safety violations as well as criminal and drug-related activity. The extension lasts three months longer than the federal moratorium that ended July 25.

Advertisement

The agency set the October deadline to give staff time to implement the payment plans, the director said.

Maddox-Evans sent an email to elected officials and community advocates Thursday asking for their help. Agency officials have made individual calls to residents to offer resources and even held pop-up events at each property, she said.

“We have pretty much exhausted all of the things that we could do,” she said.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees the housing authority, requires the agency to enforce its lease, Maddox-Evans said. After Nov. 2, the housing authority will be forced to begin filing failure-to-pay-rent judgments against tenants, she said. Such a judgment is not an eviction notice but is the beginning of the eviction process.

“This is not something that’s within HACA’s discretion,” she said. “It’s extremely important for [residents] to understand that this is a federally subsidized program in which there are requirements for them to continue to participate. And one of those requirements, if they’re under lease, is to pay rent.”

Toni Strong Pratt, an Annapolis community housing advocate, said she has advised public housing residents to reach out to the housing authority if they are having trouble paying rent. She said she regularly shares updates on social media and she and other community leaders plan to continue urging tenants to notify their property manager of income changes between now and October.

“Whenever they call, I am advising them that they have that opportunity and that it’s in their best interest to set up a payment arrangement,” Strong Pratt said.

The housing authority also has received few interim rent adjustment requests, Maddox-Evans said. This request can reduce monthly rent or eliminate it entirely if the tenant’s income has been reduced to zero.

Residents cannot just stop paying rent without engaging in the aid services first, she said.

“Please help residents understand that if they believe their rent amounts are not correct, it is their responsibility to contact us, so that their rent ledger may be reviewed,” she said in the email. “They cannot simply refuse to pay it. Please also inform them that they cannot withhold rent if they are not satisfied with maintenance conditions without going through the legal process to do so.”

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman bolstered a county eviction prevention program with another $1.5 million of the county’s federal relief funding last month, one day before the federal eviction moratorium was lifted. The $4.5 million provides renters below a certain income level with direct rent and utility assistance and legal counseling. This doesn’t help public housing, subsidized housing or housing choice voucher tenants, who are not eligible.

The Housing Commission of Anne Arundel County has protected its residents from rent evictions through the end of October. That deadline could be extended when the issue is discussed at the end of this month, commission CEO Clifton Martin said. The county housing commission will still pursue evictions of households with health and safety violations or criminal and drug-related activity.

Advertisement

Capital reporters Danielle Ohl and Olivia Sanchez contributed to this story.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement