Tens of thousands of Marylanders behind on their rent could benefit from the CDC’s new eviction order, but many are still at risk of losing their homes as tenant protections provided by the state of emergency are set to expire in less than two weeks.
The CDC’s eviction ban announced Tuesday is more targeted than previous orders, which is limited to areas with substantial or high transmission rates. The order is expected to cover 90 percent of renters across the country.
In Maryland, half of the counties, including Baltimore city are places with either substantial or high transmission rates. In those areas, around 70,000 people are behind on their rent, according to the National Equity Atlas.
The CDC’s order means they’re protected from losing their homes until October 3rd, which is when it’s scheduled to end.
“The CDC order is a critical eviction protection that recognizes that there is a clear line between eviction and the community spread of COVID-19. Evictions lead to homelessness, folks who are homeless are often doubled up with family and friends or in congregate homeless shelters and actually contribute to the spread of COVID-19,” said Matt Hill who is an attorney with the Public Justice Center.
In total, nearly 130,000 people across Maryland are behind on their rent. For those families living in areas with low to moderate transmission rates, they're still at risk of losing their homes.
That’s because the protections provided by the state of emergency is set to expire on August 15th.
“We’re looking at more than 4,500 families who are facing eviction orders in Maryland just in the month of August,” Hill said. “So, we really are still looking at an eviction tsunami.”
He said Governor Larry Hogan could prevent a wave of evictions by aligning his eviction order with the CDC.
“We’re calling on Governor Hogan to recognize that critical connection between eviction and transmission of COVID and as a public health emergency extend the state’s eviction order to at least October 31st if not longer,” he said.
Hill is also calling for eviction diversion programs and for the state and others to fund a tenant's legal right to counsel. He said that’s important because many people think they’re protected from eviction until it's too late.
“Otherwise, we’ve seen people who think they’re protected suddenly have a sheriff at their doorstep,” he said.
Another benefit of the CDC order is that it will gives counties and Baltimore City more time to distribute federal relief money for rental assistance, which helps renters as well as landlords, Hill said.
So far, localities have used less than 20 percent of the funds, according to Hill.
While he expects challenges to the order in court, he believes it will stay place.
WMAR-2 News has reached out to the Governor’s office to ask if he’s considering extending his eviction order, but we have yet to hear back.