In COVID-19, Maryland State, MD Renters' Rights, MD Sign-On Campaigns

Anna Levy and Debbie Amster are members of JUFJ’s Montgomery County leadership council. 

JUFJ members with signs for housing justice

In May, JUFJ joined with our partners at CASA, the Renters United Maryland coalition, tenant associations, and advocates across the state to call for relief for Maryland renters.

In Exodus and again in Leviticus, the Torah references the agricultural practice of shmita:  leaving the land to lie fallow in the seventh year as a sabbath year. During the shmita year, privately-owned property returns to public ownership and debts are nullified. In the lead up to a shmita year, we are all encouraged to lend sufficiently so that everyone’s needs are met.

We’re asking Governor Larry Hogan to #CanceltheRent because we must make sure everyone’s housing needs are met throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and we must release people from unpayable debts that could leave them without a home.

On June 1st, our partners from the #CanceltheRent Campaign came together for a Town hall hosted by CASA to hear the stories of renters from across Maryland.

We heard heartbreaking pleas for support from people who had lost their jobs, people who pay taxes, people who can’t get other assistance because they or their spouse don’t have papers, they or their spouse has cancer but someone needs to go to a job so the family won’t get evicted but also risks bringing home the virus to vulnerable family members. While a couple of our allied state legislators were in attendance, there was no representative from the governor’s office present. We need to be sure that these stories get heard  and addressed. 

– Anna Levy, Maryland District 16

“The town hall was a wrenching opportunity to hear the plight of so many who are facing homelessness as a result of the pandemic and the inability for some, because of their immigration status to get any relief.  Story after story was shared – folks having to choose between putting themselves and vulnerable family members at risk or pay rent- choosing between medication or rent – choosing between the best of awful choices. 

– Debbie Amster, Maryland District 14

With our partners, we’ve been calling for a cancellation of rent for weeks, and have had no response for Governor Hogan. While there currently is a moratorium on evictions, they’re set to resume on July 25 unless Governor Hogan takes action. In the midst of a public health emergency and economic hardship, it is dangerous to put lives at risk by forcing people out of their homes.

Click here to learn more about our campaign to #CanceltheRent in Maryland.

Press Coverage

Providing lawyers to Baltimore tenants facing eviction could pay for itself – The Baltimore Sun, Editorial Board

Study: providing lawyers for Baltimore tenants to fight eviction can save the city and state money – The Baltimore Sun

Housing advocates make case for providing lawyers to renters facing eviction – Mallory Sofastaii, ABC 2 News – WMAR

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