Thousands of Baltimore residents are struggling to pay their rent and facing the possibility of eviction in the face of record unemployment caused by the coronavirus.

Now there is word of a new program in the city to help Baltimoreans who find themselves behind in their rent.

On Monday, Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young announced the launch of a temporary rent support program to assist residents who are struggling to pay rent due to a coronavirus-related financial impact.

"Like millions of families across the country, many Baltimore families are struggling to pay rent and have faced record unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic," Young. "With this program, along with the support aimed at overall homelessness prevention, we will serve low-income households facing financial hardship or loss of income and prevent a wave of evictions during this pandemic."

It's estimated that more than 20,000 tenants in Baltimore are behind on their rent right now. There are typically about 11,000 non-payment partitions filed in court every month.

With the eviction moratorium currently set to expire in late July and delinquencies at twice the pre-pandemic rates, Baltimore City's temporary rent support program is a one-time emergency program to help renters get current on their April, May and June rents and bring a measure of stability to the rental property market. The city is also shoring up its homeless prevention efforts, including eviction prevention and relocation support services, to assure that it is in the best position to help low-income residents as evictions resume.

"We've been working for weeks with tenant advocates, community partners, and small- and large-scale landlords to design and implement a program that can reach the largest number of those most vulnerable," said Housing Commissioner Michael Braverman. "As a city, we've been able to assemble a range of resources for both rent support and homeless prevention with the shared objective of mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on tenants' ability to pay rent and the cascading effects of eviction."

Funding for the temporary rent support component of the program includes Community Development Block Grant COVID funds ($13.1 million through the federal coronavirus relief bill). Under the terms of the program, landlords will accept 80% of contract rent, waive late fees and penalties, and agree not to file for any subsequent non-payment during July and August. The program will cover up to three months' rent for April, May, and June. The city will pay the full balance of the delinquency, up to 80% of the contract rent unless the tenant received unemployment benefits, in which case the tenant must pay a portion. Payments will be made on behalf of tenants to landlords.

City residents can apply for temporary rent support starting Wednesday. The application window will close on July 13. Information on how to apply and eligibility requirements can be found on the city's website. Read more at WBAL