$59 million available to low-income renters hurt by COVID-19 in Montgomery Co.

Ana Martinez from CASA speaks in Spanish about the need for rental assistance in Montgomery County.

More money is now available for Montgomery County, Maryland, renters hit hard in the wallet by the COVID-19 crisis.

In its first two phases, the county’s COVID-19 Rent Relief program provided more than $16 million to more than 4,000 low-income households.

Now, the program has received a cash infusion of $59 million in federal funds for its third phase, which is well over three times the amount of assistance given out so far.

The money comes from the Treasury Department’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Previous funding came from the federal CARES Act.

“We’re going to be in a lot better position to help people,” Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said Friday in a news conference. “This now allows us to give up to $12,000 in relief to families, for up to 15 months of lost rent.”

The money is paid directly to landlords.

To qualify, renters must have lost income because of the pandemic, owe at least $1,000 to a landlord, have lived in Montgomery County since at least August 2020, and meet income requirements. For instance, gross household income for an individual in the last 30 days must be $3,675 or less. For a family of four, it must be $5,250 or less.

You don’t have to be a U.S. citizen or have a Social Security number to qualify.

In Spanish, Zoila Ortega said she is blessed to have received rental assistance from the COVID-19 rent relief program.

Applications for Phase 3 assistance will not be processed first-come, first-serve. Instead, they’ll be prioritized based on several factors, including whether the household is in a “high-impact” neighborhood, includes someone who’s been unemployed for 90 days or more, or has eviction actions being taken.

“We know … the COVID pandemic has disproportionately impacted the economic well-being of our poorest and most vulnerable renters. They’re often referred to as essential workers, but when you don’t have health insurance and you don’t have access to unemployment, you’re pretty much expendable workers,” Elrich said.

You can apply online and read an FAQ on the rent relief program’s webpage. If you’ve already received money through earlier versions of the program, you can reapply to potentially get more as long as you stay under the per-household cap of $12,000. The county’s health department has also set up an application portal and FAQ section in Spanish.

People who don’t have internet access or need help filling out the application should call Montgomery County’s 311 or 240-777-0311 if outside the county.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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