A CANCER patient is facing eviction after the city fails to pay her rental assistance.
Many Baltimore residents face the same problem as they rely on city assistance provided by the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services and Service Providers to pay their rent.
Several tenants, including Kimberly Brown, who has throat cancer, received eviction notices in August after months of failing to pay rent.
The Baltimore City Council held Tuesday’s hearing to discuss issues with service providers and the Office of Homeless Services.
Brown was represented at the hearing by her mother, who told councilors her daughter had received five court notices during treatment.
Her mother, Sandra Jones, said on behalf of her daughter, “In August, right after my third surgery, I received an eviction notice that said I had to be out by August 29th, and that was August 7th.”
Brown was in the hospital when she learned of the eviction and was unable to speak due to her illness.
Her mother noted that Dayspring had failed to send a representative to court to fight on Brown’s behalf and that the judge sided with the landlord.
Brown, who has a 15-year-old daughter, said her child was traumatized by the threat of losing his home.
“The city and Dayspring have made a commitment to us,” Jones said for Brown.
“I don’t believe our children should suffer because of an accounting error.”
Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby said, “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.
Single mother Tracy McDonald said The Baltimore Banner about how she worries about her future and that of her 13-year-old son.
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.
However, she learned that Dayspring had not paid her bills and those of a number of other program participants for months.
After missing payments, her landlord, Skyline Properties Management, sent McDonald an eviction notice, leaving the mother frightened 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.”
Councilman Eric Costello called the arrears a “deeply concerning fiasco.”
Costello said: “This whole fiasco is extremely worrying, [and] jeopardizes the city’s finances.”
Skyline Properties Management officials blame Dayspring Programs Inc. for failing to pay its bills on time.
However, Dayspring and the homeless agency blame each other for the failure.
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.
She also took aim at landlords, saying they should think twice before signing a contract they can’t keep.
“They all play a role in this,” she said.
“It’s about knowing our system and how these parts are connected and how they work.”
However, 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.”
She added that her tenant was hospitalized because of the stress caused by missed rent payments, saying: “She doesn’t deserve this.”
No reasons were given as to why Dayspring has not made payments, as the organization receives money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is passed on 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 attributes the delays in homeless assistance to staffing issues, adding that payment is more difficult than ever this year.
The US Sun has reached out to the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services for comment.