A number of residents are facing eviction after the city failed to pay promised rental assistance.
Some Baltimore residents rely on assistance from the city to pay their rent, provided by the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services and Service Providers.
However, several tenants have received eviction notices from the city due to months of unpaid rent.
On Tuesday, the Baltimore City Council held a hearing to discuss the issue with service providers and the Office of Homeless Services.
Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby: “Access to housing is a human right and the threat of eviction is a truly traumatic experience for anyone.”
Under the plan, the agencies will receive federal money from the city to pay the rent of residents who apply for the service.
Tracy McDonald said The Baltimore Banner about how both her life and that of her 13-year-old son were saved by a rental assistance service, but now worries about her future.
McDonald’s rent is paid by a Baltimore City-based nonprofit organization called Dayspring Programs, Inc., which provides housing assistance and social services to city residents and families recovering from substance abuse.
McDonald, who has been sober since the birth of her son, has used the service since 2011 and says it has kept the couple safe.
However, she learned that Dayspring had not paid her bills and those of a number of other program participants for months
Due to the missed payments, her landlord, Skyline Properties Management, has sent McDonald an eviction notice, leaving the mother scared and uncomfortable.
“I agree it’s owed, but I don’t owe it,” McDonald told the news outlet.
“I can not stop crying. I lost 11 pounds in a month – it’s stressful.”
No reasons were given as to why Dayspring failed to make payments, as the organization receives money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development that was supposed to be routed by the city government through Dayspring and then to landlords and service providers.
A statement sent to The Baltimore Banner said: “Dayspring is a small nonprofit organization and is unable to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover the costs of this HUD/MOHS program.”
The organization pointed to staffing issues when it comes to delays in homeless assistance, adding that payment is more difficult than ever this year.
A number of organizations that have missed payments and threatened to evict more than two dozen tenants have accused city officials of failing to make their payments on time.
They blamed administrative backlogs and a lack of staff.
The head of the mayor’s Office of Homeless Services, Irene Augustin, spoke at Tuesday’s hearing.
She said: “Not only do we need to improve the work we do with our providers, but we also need to make sure that when there are evictions or problems with landlords, the providers take care of it.”
Augustin added that the department is working hard to resolve the issues and has even created standard operating procedures.
It also cooperates with the city’s finance department.
Meanwhile, landlord Gloria Campo told the council: “It is very difficult to have confidence as a small landlord when we are asked to financially support many families who lack resources.”
Tenant Kimberly Brown, who has throat cancer, said she received five court notices during her treatment.
Her mother spoke on her behalf at the hearing, saying: “In August, right after my third operation, I received an eviction notice that said I had to be out by August 29th, and that was August 7th.”
Councilman Eric Costello called the arrears a “deeply concerning fiasco.”
Costello said: “This whole fiasco is extremely worrying, [and] jeopardizes the city’s finances.”
The Council also questioned why this had not been communicated to them and why the issues had not been raised in the budgetary process.
The US Sun has reached out to the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services for comment.