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Montgomery County Council Introduces Emergency Rental Assistance Appropriation

by Nena Perry-Brown

This morning, the Montgomery County Council introduced a $2 million budget appropriation for emergency rental assistance.

The funds would be available as a short-term subsidy to low- and moderate-income households during the 2020 fiscal year to bolster the county's eviction moratorium related to the COVID public health emergency. A rent freeze bill is also pending in the Council.

These subsidies are intended to fill the gaps left for renters who may not hold a formal lease or who were ineligible for federal relief payments. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) would oversee the funds, and the county would also seek federal or state monies to reimburse the appropriation and other COVID-related expenses. 

The Council also sent a letter to County Executive Marc Elrich requesting that rental assistance eligibility be temporarily expanded by waiving certain requirements and allowing households more than one subsidy within a 12-month period. The letter also seeks a six-month grace period after the emergency lifts to extend eviction moratorium protections.

"Housing insecurity is especially acute for Montgomery County renters, who
make on average 70% of the area median income and half of whom are cost burdened, notwithstanding the current economic climate," the letter states. "While the statewide eviction moratorium is temporarily helpful for some renters, we must also increase direct housing assistance and expand the qualifications for existing County housing programs so that more Montgomery County residents are able to recover from this economic crisis and its lasting effects."

The Council will hold a virtual public hearing on the rental assistance appropriation next week.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/montgomery-county-council-introduces-emergency-rental-assistance-appropriat/16745

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