$ 32 million in rent assistance issued in August, but most of the money still hasn’t been spent in Maryland.

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State and local governments in Maryland distributed $ 32.3 million in Federal Emergency Rent Assistance (ERA1) funding in August, according to new data released by the Department of Housing and Community Development. State, up from $ 29 million in July.

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State and local governments in Maryland distributed $ 32.3 million in Federal Emergency Rent Assistance (ERA1) funding in August, according to new data released by the Department of Housing and Community Development. State, up from $ 29 million in July.

That means state and local governments distributed a total of $ 92.1 million in ERA1 funding at the end of August, with an additional $ 38.7 million outstanding at the end of the month. Data for September are not yet available.

State and local governments in Maryland received a total of $ 401 million in ERA1 funding under the Consolidated Appropriations Act passed by Congress late last year and, including administrative services and costs , have used approximately $ 135 million of this funding so far.

By the end of August, the state had spent less than half of its total ERA1 allocation.

Some feared Maryland would lose its ERA1 funding in late September, as U.S. Treasury officials planned to collect the unused funds and send them to jurisdictions that had already distributed 65% of their funding.

But Sara Luell, director of public information for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, said in an email that the treasury reallocation plan has changed and officials “will now base reallocation decisions on funds spent. for financial aid and would work with states to understand their program models, in addition to spending rates. ”

According to a September 24 letter Deputy Treasury Secretary Adewale Adeyemo, Treasury officials will soon establish a “clear minimum expenditure ratio” for reallocation based on state and local government ERA1 funding distributed by September 30, and will gradually reallocate funds over a period of time. period of several months. Treasury officials will decide the first spending ratio after recipients release September spending data on Oct. 15, according to Adeyemo’s letter.

“If funds are reallocated, they should be reallocated within the state, without reducing the overall funds available for a state as a whole,” Luell said in an email.

Cash find and whereas rental assistance payments increased across the country in August compared to July. Treasury officials have attempted to speed up the granting of rent relief in recent months by allowing governments more flexibility on funding, for example by allowing self-certification of applicants who cannot provide documentation. on their income and other eligibility conditions.

The updated Treasury guidelines mean that state and local governments in Maryland will be able to work with federal officials before reallocations take place, Luell said, and will be able to share future spending projections and justify future funding rather than having their funding reallocated. And she said that once an ERA1 recipient (usually a state or local government) has committed 65% of the funds, they become eligible for additional ERA1 funds.

Luell said the state estimates more than $ 50 million in rent relief funds were distributed in September. Moreover, ERA1 funding is not the only relief distributed by state and local governments. Prior to ERA1, state and local governments in Maryland distributed more than $ 113 million in state, local, and federal rent relief in 2020.

Fair housing advocates and state officials have urged local governments to speed up the disbursement of rent relief in recent months, especially after federal eviction protections were canceled and similar state protections have been allowed to expire.

According to National Atlas of Actions, there are 131,000 households in arrears of rent in Maryland with a total rent debt estimated at $ 429 million. About 80% of late renters in Maryland are people of color, according to Atlas data, which is taken from U.S. Census and Treasury sources.

Fair housing advocates have said throughout the pandemic that funding rent relief alone will not be enough to keep tenants in their homes, and many are urging state officials to restore protections. CASA, the largest immigrant advocacy organization in the Mid-Atlantic region, is holding a rally and “sleep outside”In Annapolis on Friday night, calling on Governor Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) to restore protections against evictions.

“It’s definitely not close to being over,” said Cathryn Paul, head of government relations and public policy at CASA, in an interview earlier this week. “Black and brown communities, in particular, are suffering and preparing for homelessness right now as we move into the next month. Now is not the time for us to hesitate to protect people. “

Advocates also want the General Assembly to move forward with housing reforms that were not passed in the 2021 legislative session, including a measure that would expand protection for tenants after catastrophic future health emergencies. .

To learn more about how to apply for rental assistance in your jurisdiction, click here. To find out more about the eligibility conditions for ERA1, click on here.


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