Letters to the Editor • Opinion
The coronavirus pandemic is not over
Letters to the Editor • Opinion
We already know how to prevent pandemics
Signs hang from the windows of an apartment building in Northwest Washington in May. The District, Maryland and Virginia have announced more resources to help tenants who can't pay their rent because of the pandemic. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

The June jobs report showing more than 14.7 million people out of work indicates how many Americans may be struggling to pay for essentials such as food and shelter. While some eviction and foreclosure moratoriums and mortgage forbearance programs have been in place, the federal government, the District, Maryland and Virginia are developing new protections and relief programs to help tenants and landlords.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced last week that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are extending forbearance agreements to multifamily-property owners with forbearance agreements for up to three months at a time, for a total of six months . This means that landlords can put their mortgage on pause if they are experiencing a pandemic-related hardship and have a loan backed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. They must suspend all evictions for renters while they pause making mortgage payments. They have 24 months to repay the missed payments once forbearance ends. The program also requires landlords not to charge late fees or penalties for nonpayment of rent, and to allow repayment of the rent over time rather than in a lump sum.

New resources for tenants to learn about eviction protections

The District’s Department of Housing and Community Development launched grant programs with millions of dollars in federal funding to help tenants and nonprofit community organizations. The housing assistance program, managed by three nonprofit groups (Housing Counseling Services, Greater Washington Urban League and United Planning Organization), will provide rental assistance to District residents, depending on their income and household size. The tenants must verify their income and provide proof of their rental delinquency.

In Maryland, the Department of Housing and Community Development announced that $30 million in federal funding will be distributed for eviction prevention support. About 20 percent of rental units in the state have been delinquent on payments since the state of emergency was announced March 5 because of the pandemic, according to the department. The funds will be split between local rental assistance programs and the Assisted Housing Relief program, which is intended to repay rent delinquencies in state-financed rental units. The department says that approximately 9,000 of the 45,000 state-financed rental units are delinquent at a cost of $3 million per month. The funds in that program will go to the landlord, and the tenants will have their rental debt eliminated and won’t be threatened by the possibility of eviction due to nonpayment.

The Department of Housing and Community Development’s Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program will provide financial aid for rent or mortgage payments for eligible households depending on the availability of funds and household need. The financial assistance will be in the form of a one-time payment for past-due rent or mortgage payments beginning April 1. Additional payments may be available if the program has the funds. To be eligible, the household needs to have experienced a loss of income due to the pandemic.

A Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website has more information on protections for renters.

Read more:

What you need to know about paying your rent or mortgage

Which states are doing a better job protecting renters from being evicted during the coronavirus pandemic

Democrats have proposed $100 billion for struggling renters. It may not be enough.