With Pandemic Causing Housing Issues, Maryland AG Aims to Address the Headache

The Maryland Attorney General’s Office released their final report from their Justice Task Force in preparation for the upcoming Legislative Session.
One of their focuses is connecting residents with the legal representation they need in civil housing court, as the pandemic has left more Marylanders in uncertain housing situations than ever.

“We are interested in making sure everyone has access to the civil justice system, no matter how much money you have.”

Says Reena Shah, vice chair of the Attorney General’s Covid 19 Access to Justice Task Force.

Due to the pandemic– with job loss on the rise, or a death of a primary income holder in the family– the Task Force aims to assist residents with threats of eviction.

“So definitely the need has increased because this has happened. It was already a challenging the system. 80% of Marylanders were just navigating the system on their own.”

Another issue arising is that court proceedings have become virtual over in-person. In areas like Delmarva, this creates a unique headache for rural residents as well, where internet connectivity can be poor.

Shah notes that, “people now have to go to court remotely and low income people that don’t have access technology have a more challenging time.”

The Task Force went to work on that issue, creating a map of rural areas that need more efficient internet connectivity.

The Task Force has made progress so far in advocating for those effected by the pandemic, securing 3 million dollars from governor Larry Hogan, with another request in the budget coming up.
There is a need for continued focus- Habitat for Humanity Wicomico County tells us so the situation is urgent as the legislative session heats up.

“We are getting on average now about 17-20 applications for assistance each week. I know more people are needing assistance.” warns Molly Hilligoss, the executive director.

Because of the need for social distancing during the pandemic, shelters are at capacity.

“What is going to happen if all these people end up getting evicted, where are they gonna go? The county doesn’t have the resources.”

Habitat for Humanity Wicomico County hasn’t been a legal resource before- but due to the exploding need they are assisting residents in the county– with funding aid while connecting them with the proper legal counsel needed to fight evictions.
You can go to their website to get process started.
Dodge Landesman – 47 ABC

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