Montgomery Co. reopens COVID-19 rent relief program

Montgomery County, Maryland, has relaunched its COVID-19 rent relief program, which aims to help people who are behind on rent and struggling financially as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The program stopped taking applications June 30, but county leaders have decided to reopen the application portal for now.

“We are seeing people coming into our offices with imminent evictions,” said Ilana Branda, deputy chief of Montgomery County’s Services to End and Prevent Homelessness.

The program first launched in May 2020 and has distributed $79.1 million in financial assistance.

“We want to make sure that those who were not able to get an application in before still have an opportunity to access the program,” Branda said.

The county has not set a new date for when the program will stop accepting applications. Branda said the county will monitoring the amount of money available and will announce an end date in the future.

In order to qualify for assistance, applicants must have experienced a COVID‐19-related financial hardship and must be at least two months behind on rent.

Applications will be processed based on priority, including factors such as income, eviction risk and geographic location.

“We have additional funds to distribute and we know that the need for this assistance has not gone away,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “The impact of this pandemic will be with us for quite some time, so I urge eligible residents who are in need to not delay and apply today.”

If someone set up an online account or started an application before the previous deadline, they can log into their account to continue an application — there is no need to submit another one.

Once a case is assigned, applicants will hear from a case worker via email, mail or telephone, according to the county.

Residents who have already applied can check the status of the application through the online portal.

In a related development, a new rent-cap proposal before the Montgomery County Council, aimed at keeping landlords from raising rents more than 4.4% for another six months, was tabled by council members earlier this week.

A previous temporary rent increase ceiling of 0.4% expired May 15, but tenants must be given three months’ notice of a rent increase.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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