Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) was awarded a $9.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Treasury to provide rent and utility assistance. The funds can be used to pay up to nine months of past due rent or utilities for residents that suffered a COVID-related loss of income, reduction in hours, or medical illness. Residents that already received three or six months of rental assistance, as well as residents that are still unemployed, could be eligible for additional assistance from this grant. Household income limits apply.
“Eleven months into this pandemic, and we are still seeing the serious repercussions on the livelihoods of our residents,” said Ball. “These funds are vital to support our residents who suffered job or income loss due to COVID-19 and are being forced to choose which bills to pay versus how to feed their families. The faster we can get these funds into the hands of our residents, the better. Our Housing Department’s quick action to apply for these funds will help so many of our neighbors, and we will continue looking for all opportunities to provide assistance for our most vulnerable residents.”
Howard County’s Department of Housing and Community Development applied for the funding in mid-January. The Ball Administration will file legislation for Howard County Council consideration in February to acquire the budget authority to spend the funds. DHCD will oversee the management of rental assistance funds and the Department of Community Resources and Services will oversee the distribution of utility assistance funds.
“We are grateful for this award to provide ongoing rental assistance for residents that are still unemployed or not able to return to full time employment due to the pandemic,” said Kelly Cimino, Director of DHCD. “As of January 22, 2021, the Department has awarded more than $6 million in rental assistance funding to help struggling residents. We will continue to work with our nonprofit partners to ensure that applications for these funds are processed as quickly as possible.”
“We know that there are families suffering in silence as they try to manage through the ongoing challenges brought on by the pandemic,” said Jacqueline Scott, Director of the Department of Community Resources and Services. “There are growing numbers of families who under normal circumstances would be able to meet their household needs but are now having to face falling off the cliff into potential eviction or foreclosure. This funding will allow us to step in quickly to help support and stabilize those families so that they can remain safe and healthy as we fight the spread of COVID.”
“The gravity of pressure and stress on the families to meet all the extra expenses that have resulted because of the pandemic is as unprecedented as the pandemic itself,” said Bita Dayoff, President of the Community Action Council of Howard County. “Mounting debts for unpaid rent and utilities could upend any family’s finances and if unaddressed could cause thousands of families to face the danger of being evicted and losing their homes. We are grateful that our County Government is stepping in to provide direct financial assistance to so many vulnerable families and partner with them in fighting against housing and energy insecurity.”