The Montgomery County Council addressed questions Thursday evening at a virtual tenant town hall meeting about possible eviction due to missed rental payments as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“With next month’s rent due in just a few days, we know many residents are concerned about their housing and economic security during this crisis,” said an advisory about the meeting sent by Council member Evan Glass and Will Jawando. “To alleviate these concerns, the Montgomery County Council has taken a number of housing relief measures to assist renters during this time. These actions include increasing rental assistance and adopting emergency rent stabilization.”
Some of the 130,000 people who live in rental properties in the county sent questions about how missing a second month’s rent on May 1 would fare.
“I heard from a 65-year-old woman who cleans homes for a living and her husband is a painter, and they conveyed to me in Spanish basically expressing their concerns about paying the rent tomorrow,” Glass said.
In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan issued an emergency order that stops courts from ordering the eviction of any tenant who can show their failure to pay rent is as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jawando said any measure would have to extend well beyond the actual emergency itself.
Coronavirus Cases in DC, Maryland and Virginia
COVID-19 cases by population in D.C. and by county in Maryland and Virginia
“This is gonna be a long recovery, so I think we are going to need to have a discussion once the health emergency has passed — and hopefully that is sooner rather than later — about how we continue to protect people,” he said.
In Virginia, courts are not hearing eviction cases and sheriffs are not scheduling or carrying out evictions. In the District, there is a prohibition on evictions during the state of emergency issued by the mayor.
The D.C. area is not the target of any large rent strikes, like ones being organized in several major U.S. cities.