This is a general post with resources and information. To have this emailed to you, sign up HERE. Feel free to drop me a line to let me know how you’re doing, what ideas you have to weather this storm, and what needs you see or that you have. My legislative director, Dani, and I continue to check our office phone (410-841-3319) and email regularly. *For COVID-19 information in other languages, click here*
For a Facebook page with Spanish-language materials, click HERE.
Where to get tested for COVID: This link has a list of testing sites across the City, with details as to which need a referral, and which are walk-up testing sites.
Business Health Help: On the Baltimore City Coronavirus website, there is a page with information for community and business leaders that details steps employees and employers should take if an essential worker becomes ill with COVID-19, and other helpful guidance and FAQs. Johns Hopkins has also released important new guidance on how to operate businesses safely! Check it out HERE.
Tis the Season – for Farmers Markets! Farmers markets are back and you can find the closest one to you at THIS website. In D46, we are lucky to have one in Fell’s Point on Saturday mornings and one at the BMI on Saturday mornings. Visit them, buy good food, and support Maryland agriculture!
- The Legislative Latino Caucus, of which I am a member, has created a Facebook group with materials on COVID in Spanish! I am uploading materials there on a regular basis. Please check it out here.
- The Latino Economic Development Center can help Spanish speaking small business owners apply for the Paycheck Protection Program.
- Centro Sol from Johns Hopkins Bayview has great materials available here
Eviction Prevention Resources
Maryland Eviction Proceedings Information and Resources
Critical Information from Maryland District Courts:
On July 25th, Maryland District Courts will begin to process warrants of restitution for failure to pay rent cases that were pending, or already authorized prior to the March 16th closure of the courts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Make sure to know your rights. There are two critical notes:
- If your landlord has filed a failure to pay rent complaint on, or before July 24th, they must have followed the proper procedure and included a Federal CARES Act Declaration of Compliance. If they have not followed the correct procedure, or your property is covered by the CARES Act, the case will automatically be dismissed.
- Governor Hogan’s original Executive Order states that, “if the tenant can demonstrate to the court, through documentation or other objectively verifiable means, that the tenant suffered a Substantial Loss of Income,” due to COVID-19, that evidence is an affirmative defense in failure to pay rent and breach of lease actions. That defense extends until the state of emergency is lifted.
- Each judge will determine if the evidence and documentation provided is sufficient to justify that defense.
You should seek legal counsel if you believe the complaint against you is covered by the CARES Act or Governor Hogan’s Executive Order. You can learn more about the process Maryland District Courts are using through their memo released on July 17th.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions from the Public Justice Center:
Q: Can the landlord charge late fees or increase the rent during COVID-19?
A: Some local jurisdictions like Baltimore City, Montgomery County, and Howard County have passed laws banning late fees during the pandemic. Some have also banned rent increases or limited rent increases. Seek legal advice if you are unsure whether your landlord can charge late fees or raise the rent.
Q: What if I can’t pay my rent next month due to COVID-19?
A: The Court has also placed on hold all non-emergency court cases and most warrants as described in the answer above. You may want to send a letter or email to your landlord explaining why you cannot pay rent due to a job loss or illness. You may be able to enter into a payment plan. The landlord may agree not to evict you if you stay on the plan. You should get any agreement in writing and keep a copy of any letter or email.
For financial assistance to avoid eviction, please call 211. A number of jurisdictions have rental assistance programs or plan to start those programs soon.
Q: What if my landlord changes the locks or evicts me?
A: If a landlord tries to evict you without a court order and the presence of the Sheriff/Constable or denies you essential services (water, electric, gas), that is illegal. If your landlord attempts to evict you this way, call 911 and ask for police assistance.
If you are illegally evicted, you should seek legal assistance and consider filing a complaint in court against your landlord. Because the courts are only hearing emergency cases, the complaint should be filed as an emergency matter if you are trying to get back into the property.
You should keep track of any expenses, including hotel bills and lost property. In Baltimore City, you may also press criminal charges against the landlord by filing a complaint with the District Court Commissioner: District Court Commissioner, 500 North Calvert St. #200, Baltimore MD 21202, phone: 410-767-5774.
Q: What happens when the pause on evictions is lifted?
A: For new or postponed eviction cases, you will receive a notice about the new trial date. Keep all documents about loss of income or health problems and all communications with your landlord. For eviction orders/warrants that were already issued, the Sheriff will schedule and execute the eviction once the hold on evictions is lifted on July 25 (possibly earlier for certain cases as described above). You may or may not receive additional notice of the new date of a rescheduled eviction. For additional answers to frequently asked questions, please visit the Public Justice Center’s website here.
Organizations Offering Legal and Other Aid:
- Public Justice Center – 410-625-9409
- Non-subsidized housing, primarily Baltimore City
- Maryland Legal Aid – 1-866-635-2948
- Homeless Persons Representation Project – 410-364-4198 (Monday – Thursday 9:00 am – 2:30 pm, Friday 9:00 am – 1:00 pm)
- Vouchers and subsidized housing only
- Disability Rights Maryland – 410-727-6352
- Housing issues related to disability
- Civil Justice Network – 410-706-0174
- Free or reduced fee legal assistance on housing issues statewide
- St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center – 410-366-8550 ext. 209 or email@example.com (Staff are taking calls 9a-5p. If not answered directly, all calls will be returned within 24 hours.)
- Provides comprehensive affordable housing services and legal aid
- Baltimore City District Court: Eviction Prevention Program – 410-878-8650
- Provides eviction prevention services for residents facing eviction
- Intake and Eligibility: Any city resident facing an eviction with or without children in the household. Eligibility for assistance is determined on a case by case basis due to funding.
Additional Sources of Information:
- Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Guidance for Rental Tenants Affected by Covid-19
- Congressional Research Service Cares Act Eviction Moratorium Information
- Baltimore City COVID-19 Renter Relief Act
- Governor Hogan’s Executive Order Temporarily Prohibiting Evictions of Tenants Suffering Substantial Loss of Income Due to Covid-19
November 3 Election Update
The State Board will mail ballot APPLICATIONS (not ballots) automatically to every registered voter at the address the State Board of Elections has on file. The ballots will be mailed during the first week of May to provide ample time for voters to mail them back. You will also be able to drop them in a secure location at a voting site on Election Day. See the State Board of Elections Guide HERE.
You can read all about the reopening plan at https://governor.maryland.gov/recovery/. If you have ideas, thoughts, or concerns, please let me know so I can pass them along! To see a list of all of the Governor’s recent Executive Orders, including interpretive guidance on each one click here. This week, the state also launched several drive-through testing sites (appointments still required) and surge temporary medical facilities, including one at the Baltimore Convention Center. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to our office – firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-841-3319.
Maryland Department of Labor Updates
Last week on Wednesday, the Governor and Department of Labor announced that they had fixed all of the tech issues with the new BEACON one-stop UI application. Even if the tech issues have slowed, we know that hundreds of thousands of Marylanders are still waiting for their benefits to arrive (some for over 6 weeks), disputing the outcomes of their claims, struggling with the maze of web certifications, and more. Needless to say, I am not satisfied with these “fixes” and the outcomes are still dismal. Please keep in touch with my office and we will continue to advocate for you.
Here are some resources that the Department released that may be helpful to you.
- BEACON One-Stop FAQs https://www.dllr.state.md.us/employment/uibeaconfaqs.pdf
- BEACON One-Stop Username and Password Handbook https://www.dllr.state.md.us/employment/uibeaconuserhandbook.pdf
- Login Quick Start Guide https://www.dllr.state.md.us/employment/uibeaconlogin.pdf
- Account Activation and Login – here
- Applying for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) – HERE – This is the 13 week extension of UI benefits for those that may have exhausted their original 26 weeks.
- Applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – here – This is the new UI program for self employed, independent contractors, sole proprietors, gig economy workers, non-profits, and those with limited work history.
- Technical Support Issues – BEACON.Support@maryland.gov
Q&A – Resources for You
- Feeling stressed out and anxious? Now more than ever it is important that we and everyone makes an effort to take care of themselves including efforts to relax and decompress. Here are some helpful links:
- Need help applying for unemployment? See “Department of Labor” section under “State Updates” below for detailed information.
- Looking for a job? The Mayor’s Office of Employment Development can help with finding a job! Several companies are hiring: https://moed.baltimorecity.gov/job-seekers/now-hiring.
- Need help finding food now? Food is available at dozens of sites across the city: https://coronavirus.baltimorecity.gov/food-distribution-sites
- Need help with public benefits? SNAP application assistance is provided by Maryland Hunger Solutions (866-821-5552). Legal help with terminations or determinations for SNAP, TCA, or TDAP is provided by the Homeless Persons Representation Project (410-364-4198).
- Having a legal issue related to eviction/ landlords, utilities, unemployment, immigration, or domestic violence? The Maryland Access to Justice Commission is here to help with civil legal issues: https://www.mdaccesstojustice.org/covid-19/.
- Questions about workers’ rights and COVID? The Public Justice Center has an awesome FAQ page and great explainers to help you understand your rights: http://www.publicjustice.org/en/legal_help/workers-rights-and-covid-19/
- Are you from the hospitality industry and looking for resources? Check out the new website of the Baltimore Restaurant Relief Fund. On this site you can learn more about their relief fund and resources for workers and owners in the restaurant world. The website is in Spanish and English.
- Need health insurance? The Maryland Health Connection has extended the COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period to June 15 for uninsured Marylanders who need health coverage. Visit MarylandHealthConnection.gov or download the free “Enroll MHC” mobile app. Request or select “Coronavirus Emergency Special Enrollment Period.” Free help is available by calling 1-855-642-8572 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays. Visit www.marylandcares.org for free help with an enrollment dispute.
- Need help with taxes? Tax prep assistance is provided for free by the Maryland Cash Campaign: http://cashmd.org/ and https://www.mdcashacademy.org/
- Need day care? Childcare for Essential Personnel: Parents who are still required to go to work can receive support and care for their children by calling 1-877-261-0060, or visiting http://www.marylandfamilynetwork.org/essentialpersonnel.
- Confused about the Governor’s stay at home directive? The Sun released a helpful, entertaining Q&A. Click here.
- Haven’t completed your Census Questionnaire yet? Do it today at www.my2020census.gov! It takes 5-10 minutes.
- Experiencing health issues and need to talk to a healthcare provider for advice or a referral? Call the Esperanza Center’s Health Hotline for bilingual services (M-F, 9AM-5PM) at 667-600-2314.
- Want more information about COVID-19 from medical professionals?The Healthy Community Partnership and Medicine for the Greater Good at Johns Hopkins Bayview host a coronavirus (COVID-19) update call on Mondays at 3:00 p.m. and Fridays at 11:00 a.m. The dial-in information is: Toll-free number: (888) 651-5908; Participant code: 3569812. There is also a daily podcast, Public Health On Call, which includes interviews about the coronavirus. Daily and past podcasts can be found at http://bit.ly/publichealthoncall. University of Maryland Medical System free call line: open to the public 24/7 to answer questions related to COVID-19. Calls will be answered and routed by an Operator. A Registered Nurse will then connect with callers to answer their questions The call line number is 1-888-713-0711.For more information, visit https://www.umms.org/coronavirus/nurse-call-line
- Want to volunteer in a way that is safe and complies with the Governor’s stay at home order? Complete a volunteer application and sign up for a shift here. There are a wide variety of organizations in need of diverse skill sets! For a full list of current volunteer opportunities, click here. Blood donations are critically needed and are considered an essential activity – make an appointment at www.redcrossblood.org.
- Finding that essential household items have jumped up in price? Price gouging of important resources is illegal! Report any personal experiences by contact the Attorney General’s Office at 410-528-8662, or email email@example.com.
- Worried about a senior who might be lonely? There’s a new program that organizes friendly phone calls to elderly neighbors. If you’d like to get involved or sign someone up, visit: BaltimoreNeighborsNetwork.org.
- Worried about someone who may be experiencing domestic violence? Most domestic violence and sexual assault services providers are still open, including the SAFE & DV program at BGMC, House of Ruth, and others. Learn more here: https://www.baltimoresun.com/coronavirus/bs-md-domestic-violence-coronavirus-20200326-qa3r334fcba2xcymmjp4q4znim-story.html. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-SAFE (7233).
- Are you a small business owner or leader of a nonprofit that needs support? Sign up for my business-focused weekly emails with resources/information here: https://act.myngp.com/Forms/-3341106874043858944 and visit my Business Resources Guide here: http://www.brookelierman.com/2020/03/19/covid-response-business-resources/
- Are you an independent artist in need of financial support? The Maryland State Arts Council just launched an emergency grant for artists, as they do not qualify for some of the state and federal relief programs. Learn more here.
- Need help paying for housing? The following third party organizations in Baltimore City are offering assistance with paying for housing, if needed, during the COVID-19 Pandemic:
- Franciscan Center: 410-467-5340
- HealthCare Access Maryland (HCAM): 410-649-0529
- American Legion Department of MD State Headquarters: 410-752-1405, 800-433-3318
- New Shiloh Baptist Church: 410-523-5306
- All Saints Church: 410-542-0445
- Mount Moriah Baptist: 410-945-3575
- New Creation Christian Church Love Outreach Ministry: 410-488-5653
- Paul’s Place: 410-625-0775
- Walbrook Vicinity Churches Assistance Ministry: 410-383-1525
- Zion Baptist Church: 410-837-4181
- St. Anthony of Padua: 410-488-9918
- Mercy Supportive Housing Program: 410-675-2125
- Salvation Army Family Service Center: 410-783-2920
- City Temple Outreach: 410-383-8040, 410-462-4800
- Friendship Outreach Center: 410-444-1595
- Bon Secours Community Works: 410-362-3808
- Baltimore City District Court — Eviction Prevention Program: 410-878-8650
- St Vincent de Paul — The Samaritan Center: 667-600-3700 ext. 1
Resources regardless of immigration status (from MIMA)
- UndocuScholars Emergency Fund (Application in Spanish and English) and Resource List
- Immigrants Rising Resource List
- National Domestic Workers Alliance Coronavirus Care Fund (Application in English and Spanish)
- One Fair Wage relief for restaurant and service workers (Application in English and Spanish)
- Children of Restaurant Employees Relief Fund (Application in English)
- Another Round Another Rally Relief Fund for hospitality and restaurant workers (Application in English and Spanish)
- Baltimore Latino Racial Justice Circle is raising money for immigrants who have lost their jobs during COVID-19. Donate to the fund here and apply for funds by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- JHU Centro Sol compiled a list of organizations that may be able to help with rent payments.
BALTIMORE CITY UPDATE
Updates on Baltimore City Government Operations are available via the link below:
www.coronavirus.baltimorecity.gov. The City also has a new COVID-19 Online Dashboard with breakdowns by race, zip code, age, gender and number of cases over time. Baltimore Development Corporation created a website to serve as a repository of information and resources for both residents and businesses and will be continuously updated as new information becomes available. Please visit www.BaltimoreTogether.com for a more comprehensive list of resources for businesses, workers and the general public.
Distance Learning in City Schools continues! The hub for this initiative is www.baltimorecityschools.org/distance-learning. For help with homework and class assignments and questions about online learning, please call City Schools’ Homework and Technology Help Desk at 443-984-2001. The hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday.
Lessons on television – Students will be able to access daily reading, math, science, and art lessons on City Schools TV (Comcast 77) and the city’s CharmTV (Comcast 25 and 1025). Additionally, CharmTV will offer lessons via streaming video at http://www.charmtvbaltimore.com. A schedule of lessons will be available on the district’s Distance Learning webpage.
Food: Many schools continue to offer breakfast and lunch for students. They are “grab and go” meals. The Parent may go and pick up a meal for their family – the students do not have to be there. To see a list of meal sites visit here: https://www.bmorechildren.com/freemeals.
Business Tax Payments Extension: Businesses in Maryland will be given a 90-day extension for tax payments. No interest or penalty for late payments will be imposed if 2019 tax payments are made by July 15, 2020.
Business Tax Filing Deadline Extension: The Maryland Comptroller’s Office also extended business-related tax filing deadlines to June 1, 2020.
Business Licensing & Permitting Extension: Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued an executive order mandating all licenses, permits, and registrations that would expire during the current state of emergency to be extended until at least the 30th day after the state of emergency is lifted.
To date, there are three new federal laws to provide economic relief related to COVID-19:
- H.R.748: (CARES) Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act – Enacted March 27, 2020. Includes direct payments to Americans, an aggressive expansion of unemployment insurance, billions of dollars in aid to large and small businesses, and a new wave of significant funding for the healthcare industry
- H.R. 6201: Families First Coronavirus Response Act — Enacted March 18, 2020. Guaranteed free coronavirus testing, established paid leave, enhanced unemployment insurance, expanded food security initiatives, and increased federal Medicaid funding.
- H.R. 6074: Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 — Enacted March 4, 2020. Provided $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the coronavirus outbreak related to developing a vaccine, medical supplies, grants for public health agencies, small business loans, and assistance for health systems in other countries. Allowed for temporarily waiving Medicare restrictions and requirements regarding telehealth services.
The CARES Act will provide about $4 billion in aid to Maryland, including millions of dollars for FEMA, SNAP, local school districts, local nutrition programs and childcare. It will support small businesses and nonprofits through three main programs. All of these programs are now accepting applications! You can learn more about each program and apply for them by clicking “learn more”. There are other helpful links with checklists and guides at the end of this email.
- Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Advance (EIDL). Learn more. This is a working capital loan, but cannot be used to refinance preexisting debt. First payment on the loan, when approved, will be deferred from a 12-month period. Interest rate fixed at $3.75 and maximum term is 30 years. Sole proprietors and most non-profits are eligible. There is also an advance does not need to be repaid available at the end of the loan application. You can access up to $10,000 immediate payment to be used for payroll and other operating expenses.
- Paycheck Protection Program Loan (PPPL) – Learn more. The applications open today. Can be used for payroll, benefits, utilities, etc. If employees are retained on the payroll, then the loan will be forgiven. Loan payments deferred for 6-months. No collateral or personal guarantees are required. A sample application form is available here. Private non-profit organizations and veteran organizations are eligible.
A LITTLE FUN
First and foremost: go easy on yourself. Your friends may be posting clothing they have created from their newfound sewing or knitting obsession and your sibling may be training for a marathon, but each of us is experiencing this unique and challenging time differently. So, give yourself a break. That said, here are a few fun things online…
- Museums offer a rich learning experience which doesn’t have to stop when you’re at home. Keep kids of all ages engaged with FREE activities designed and collected by the education staff at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.
- On Tuesdays and Thursdays until the museum can reopen, the team at the B&O Railroad Museum presents a new episode of Junior Junction, a virtual storytime with corresponding educational activities for parents and educators to download at home. http://www.borail.org/jrjunction.aspx
- The Maryland Zoo educators are bringing the Zoo to You weekdays at 11 a.m. on both Facebook and Instagram. Each episode features a different animal with fun facts and info on how they are cared for at the Zoo. https://www.facebook.com/MarylandZoo/?ref=br_tf
- Thousands of artworks from around the world and across centuries, along with ancient manuscripts, are available for virtual browsing via The Walters’ online collections. Transport yourself to another time and get lost in the art for awhile. https://art.thewalters.org/
- Baltimore City Rec Centers have gone virtual! You will find FREE video tutorials, crafts, fitness, games and activities for all ages. We want to make sure you stay active and have fun while at home. The Virtual Rec is growing daily, so check back often. #stayhomeheroes https://bcrp.baltimorecity.gov/virtual-rec
- Starting to feel cabin fever? Take a virtual tour of a historic ship in Baltimore: https://historicships.org/
- The Reginald F. Lewis Museum has put together online resources to educate your family Maryland’s African American history and culture while having fun. Virtual storytime is held every Thursday at 1PM on Facebook and Youtube.
- Missing Baseball? Stream Ken Burns documentary for free here.
- Go on a trip without leaving your home! This list has dozens of online experiences from all over the world.
- Baltimore Magazine has put together some entertaining kids at-home activities as well – click here.
- Amazon made a library of kids movies free for streaming – click here.
- Access some fun at our Maryland Science Center! Click here.
Additional Trusted Information
- Maryland Department of Health
- University of Maryland Medical System
- Maryland Executive Orders
- Maryland Unites (Governor’s COVID-19 page)
- Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps
- Maryland business resources
- Maryland Nonprofit resources
- Maryland Health Connection special enrollment period
- Maryland Family Network’s LOCATE: Child Care
- World Health Organization
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- State Board of Elections