Linda* was evicted during the pandemic. She had to find a new apartment. She had to come up with two months’ rent. She had to remove all her possessions from her home before they were placed on the curb.
With all of her family out of state, a variety of serious illnesses and crushing medical bills, Linda’s situation was life threatening. On the best of days, she was lucky to remain out of the hospital.
Linda eventually found a new home by chance, but it was at great personal risk, and without much support.
Luck should not determine if someone has a home.
The eviction crisis and the homelessness it causes is not new, but COVID-19 has brought it to the forefront, explains Director of Public Policy Joanna Diamond. “It’s a direct result of deliberate disinvestment in housing.”
When someone loses their home through eviction, everything else crumbles. Ending homelessness requires a more equitable approach to housing than the overuse of eviction.
This includes creating affordable housing that doesn’t require tenants to jump through hoops to get and stay housed. And it requires putting tenant protections into law.
As of February 2021, nearly 200,000 Maryland families were at risk of losing their homes. “It is so easy to evict someone in Maryland,” says Charisse Lue of the Public Justice Center. “In one week, I saw 50 families evicted, even with the CDC eviction moratorium.”
Evictions are a way of criminalizing poverty and, as such, are experienced disproportionally by our Black and brown neighbors.
And eviction follows people throughout their lives—making it harder to regain housing, imposing compounding punitive debt, and putting the renter’s health at risk. All of this leads people like Linda to our waiting room.
Linda’s primary care provider, Dr. Max Romano, shared her story as testimony in support of HB 52—one of a package of housing justice bills we supported this legislative session. While the General Assembly failed to pass emergency relief for renters, we had one big housing win for tenants, which included:
- Access to legal representation in landlord/tenant disputes (the first in the nation!)
- Requirement for landlords to provide 10-day notice to tenants before filing for eviction
In his testimony, Dr. Romano stated, “These are vitally needed changes to prevent life-threatening harm caused by evictions.”
Policy decisions put and keep people in poverty. But policy can also be a step towards justice—ensuring that more Marylanders have a safe place to call home.
*This name is a pseudonym
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