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Rental assistance should not be dropped cold turkey | READER COMMENTARY

Left, Keyri Villa Torr, 12, holds a "Gov Hogan don't evict us!" above her head as tenants and advocates march on July 24 from Annapolis District Court to the Governor's Mansion to urge Gov. Larry Hogan to protect renters in Maryland from eviction. Many people continue to struggle to pay rent because of loss of wages during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Left, Keyri Villa Torr, 12, holds a "Gov Hogan don't evict us!" above her head as tenants and advocates march on July 24 from Annapolis District Court to the Governor's Mansion to urge Gov. Larry Hogan to protect renters in Maryland from eviction. Many people continue to struggle to pay rent because of loss of wages during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun)

In a recent commentary in The Baltimore Sun, a Maryland lawmaker described the problems arising for renters who face eviction from their homes after government assistance ended on July 25 due to suspension of the COVID-19 government moratorium (”Legislative report: Struggling Maryland families need more assistance with rent,” July 28). The article referred to a list of recommendations by policymakers to protect the rights of renters to stay in their homes despite lack of funds to pay rent and other utilities due to the current pandemic. The two most important recommendations mentioned included the need for a “…transparent publicly supported rental assistance program; and landlord-tenant litigants should have access to publicly funded legal services.”

While both of these solutions address the need for rental assistance, they do not account for where the money will come from once public funding accounts are empty. Our entire nation (tenants and landlords included) is adjusting to the effects of decrease in economy during this pandemic. As we navigate new obstacles related to the effects of COVID-19, together we are working on returning to normal through phases. Policies surrounding rental assistance should follow this same pattern: requiring phases of assistance as employment rates increase, rather than providing 100% of funding to renters only to cut off assistance altogether once the termination date arrives.

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Emily Howard, Libertytown

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