COVID-19 rental relief application approvals have ‘picked up the pace’ in Montgomery Co. 

There’s COVID-19 relief money to help people who are behind on rent payments, and although Montgomery County, Maryland, has a backlog of requests for help, it’s asking more people to apply for assistance.

“We are here to help. If you have not applied for assistance, please, please, please do so,” said Amanda Harris, Montgomery County’s chief of services to end and prevent homelessness.

Amanda Harris, Montgomery County chief of services to end and prevent homelessness: More than 7 of 10 recipients earn 30% or less of the Area Median Income

“This program is not first-come, first-served. It is not a lottery. It’s based on need. So, there is still time, and there are still funds available,” she said.

Harris spoke at a Thursday news conference, where it was announced that more than 5,800 county households have received more than $32 million in rental assistance thus far.

“These are federal dollars we are using and it would not be possible without the support of our congressional delegation,” said Dr. Raymond Crowel, director of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services.

About 60% of the current requests for help still need to be processed.

“Please, please, please be patient with us,” Harris said. “We know you’re stressed. But we’ve received more than 7,000 applications. So, it does take us time to process. And as long as your status does not say ‘denied,’ you’re still in the queue. We have not forgotten about you, and funds are still available.”

And if you are taken to court, County Executive Marc Elrich had this to say:

For the residents. We know this is extremely challenging time for you. And we know that from what we hear this is extraordinarily difficult. Unfortunately, we have too many residents who aren’t showing up for their court cases. And if you don’t show up for your court case, you’re gonna get an eviction notice. They are ruled in summary against you. And it’s not a protection not to show up. And a lot of people think when they hear moratorium that it’s a blanket moratorium. It’s not a blanket moratorium. So you have to actually engage in this process. And so we continue to work with our partners, to let our residents know that we have money available, that we’re committed to getting each and every application. We’re trying to drive the message through our partners that you need to get your application in; do not take the court process for granted. And if you’ve already applied, please look for outreach from our caseworkers.

The Montgomery County Rent Relief Program provides up to $12,000 or 15 months of assistance to eligible households behind on rent due to COVID-19 related income loss.

People can apply online at the COVID-19 Rent Relief Program website. People without internet access or who need help with an application can call 311.

“We have picked up the pace. I’m quite proud of our work and my team. And I truly believe that if we all work together, we can ensure people remain stably housed and prevent thousands of evictions,” Harris said.

These are federal dollars we are using and it would not be possible without the support of our congressional delegation,” Dr. Raymond Crowel Director, Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, said. (WTOP/Kristi King)

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.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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