Sarah Y. Kim | WYPR

Sarah Y. Kim

Health Reporter Report for America/Anthony Brandon Fellow

Sarah Y. Kim is WYPR’s health and housing reporter. Kim joined WYPR as a 2020-2021 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. She is based in Baltimore City.

In May 2020, Kim graduated from The Johns Hopkins University with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and international studies. As a senior, Kim was editor-in-chief of The Johns Hopkins News-Letter, where she was also a news editor from 2017-2018 and the opinions editor from 2018-2019.

Kim was one of three Hopkins undergraduates who received the 2018 Louis Azrael Fellowship in Communications, presented to three students interested in pursuing careers in journalism. In 2018 she was a summer editorial intern for Baltimore magazine and was a paid freelance researcher there for the past two years.

Though born in California, Kim grew up in South Korea for over 12 years, where she developed a passion for storytelling and writing fiction and poetry. She is excited to continue her career in journalism in Baltimore, the city she calls home.

Patrick Semansky/AP PHOTO

More than halfway through the year of the 2020 Census, barely half of Baltimore residents have responded to the decennial survey, well below the rates for Maryland and the nation.

Fernando Armstrong, a regional Census Bureau director, says only 52.5% of Baltimoreans have responded, compared to Maryland’s rate of 66.6% and the national response rate of nearly 63%.

Armstrong says it’s not unusual for census response rates in larger cities to trail behind national rates. 

Wikimedia Commons

Environmental advocates went to Baltimore’s BRESCO trash incinerator Wednesday  protesting its continued operation. BRESCO, located off Russell Street near predominantly Black communities, is the city’s largest source of industrial air pollution, according to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

Last year, the City Council unanimously passed the Baltimore Clean Air Act in an attempt to impose severe emission restrictions on BRESCO. But court documents filed this month indicate that Mayor Jack Young is negotiating a settlement with Wheelabrator, BRESCO’s operator. 

Advocates are worried that Young intends to extend the city’s contract with the company. The current contract is to expire in 2021. 

Wikimedia Commons

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh sent a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan today, asking him to extend and expand on eviction protections.  

The letter requests that Hogan implement a moratorium on evictions until Jan. 31 and provide more rental assistance. 

“This is money that is, I believe, absolutely essential not just to the folks who are about to lose their homes, but to their landlords and everybody else,” Frosh said in an interview with WYPR.

The letter also asks Hogan to renew executive orders that protect Marylanders from debt collection and termination of utilities . 

PRESERVATION MARYLAND/FLICKR

Applications for Governor Larry Hogan’s $10 million assisted housing relief program are due this week. The program will use federal CARES Act funds to provide rental assistance to tenants affected by COVID-19. Property management companies will receive direct payment from the program for April through July rent. 

While the tentative deadline is currently noon on July 31, the program may close before that date. Gregory Hare, who is overseeing the program, says that the housing department will be accepting applications on a first come first serve basis. 

SARAH Y. KIM

Since February, local doctor and baseball enthusiast David Mayer has walked through 13 Major League cities, stopping at their ballparks. He’s walking to raise awareness of preventable medical harm to patients and caregivers, the third leading cause of death in the United States. 

Saturday, the second day of opening weekend in Major League Baseball’s pandemic shortened season, he walked nine miles through Baltimore to Camden Yards, wearing an Orioles jersey. The Orioles, however, were playing in Boston. Thus far, he’s logged 1,100 miles.

NCI Center for Cancer Research/Flickr

Getting in-person cancer care may come with added risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. But doctors have been thinking of new forms of treatment and taking precautions to ensure that their patients are safe from the virus. 

 

Dr. Robert Donegan, Chief of the Division of Medical Oncology at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC) said that treatment centers are thoroughly sanitized and have limited visitor capacity. 

Wikimedia Commons

Sen. Chris Van Hollen joined Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren Wednesday to call for more federal eviction protections. A federal moratorium on evictions ends on Friday, after which courts can resume hearing eviction cases. 

“The Aspen Institute projects that over 330,000 Marylanders are at risk of eviction by the end for this year. That’s a staggering number. And that’s just Maryland,” Van Hollen said at an afternoon press conference. 

BruceEmmerling/Needpix

More than 5,500 households have begun or completed applications for Baltimore City’s $13 million rental assistance program, according to Tammy Hawley, spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Housing.

Applications for the program, which aims to prevent mass evictions by paying April, May and June rent for renters who have lost income due to COVID-19, were due at 7 p.m. Sunday. The payments go directly to landlords. 

The department sought to help at least 6,000 households and may have leftover funds. 

edkohler/flickr creative commons

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Maryland, Baltimore resident Chantel Outlaw was able to pay her rent. But shortly after the state went under lockdown, Outlaw lost her job at a fast food restaurant, leaving her behind on rent for months. Unemployment benefits she applied for in April did not come until mid-June. She applied for several jobs with no luck. 

“It was really, really nerve-wracking,” she said. “Just trying to figure out if I’m going to be able to keep a roof over my head, when I’m going to be able to put food on the table for my children.” 

 

AP/PATRICK SEMANSKY

 

Baltimore City has extended the deadline for applications for its temporary rental assistance program to July 19. Applications were originally due at 7 p.m. Monday, July 13. 

The city launched the program July 1 to help residents who have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It aims to prevent mass evictions by paying April, May and June rent to landlords. 

 

Michael Braverman, commissioner of the city’s Department of Housing and Community Development, said 4,000 applications have been submitted thus far and that he is aiming to help 6,000 households.

 

From Live Stream

Mayor Jack Young announced Thursday morning a partnership with the Baltimore City Health Department, Johns Hopkins Medicine, the University of Maryland Medical Center and BUILD to increase mobile on-demand testing across the city. The city will begin opening the new testing sites next week. 

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced Monday that he is allocating additional funds to support residents struggling to pay rent due to COVID-19. 

Last month, the county set aside $1 million of its federal and state emergency assistance funds to prevent evictions. After receiving 1500 applications, the county is now allocating an additional $1 million in federal CARES Act funding. 

 

The county is also allocating $2 million in grant funding for Phase 2 of its eviction prevention program.

 

 

from livestream

Baltimore community members and grassroots organizers gathered in front of City Hall Thursday afternoon to demand that the city and state do more to protect tenants and those experiencing homelessness. 

Speakers included residents who spoke of their experiences living in local homeless shelters amid the coronavirus (COVID-19 pandemic). They also read original poems and presented artwork. 

 

Mayor Jack Young launched a $13 million pandemic rental assistance program on Wednesday, and Gov. Larry Hogan announced a $30 million fund to prevent evictions last Friday. But advocates say that this is not enough.

Baltimore City has cancelled its annual Fourth of July fireworks this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It pained me to cancel a tradition that has been a staple for decades in Baltimore City,” Mayor Jack Young said at a press conference Thursday. 

But Young said that the police will be on the lookout for illegal fireworks. City officials have been hearing complaints about illegal fireworks at night for weeks. 

Gov. Larry Hogan announced Friday that he is putting $30 million in a fund available through the federal CARES act to help prevent evictions. But members of a House of Delegates committee questioned whether that would be enough in a virtual briefing Monday. 

Ten million dollars of the fund will provide rent relief for tenants by paying eligible property management companies. The remaining $20 million will go to all of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions to help prevent evictions.

 

As tenants across the state lost their jobs and struggled to pay rent when the COVID-19 pandemic set in in March. Gov. Larry Hogan issued a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures.

But housing advocates warn that Baltimore City will face a wave of evictions when the moratorium expires on July 25.

Carolina Paul, a paralegal at the Public Justice Center, said at a virtual news conference Thursday that once the moratorium expires, the evictions will start with cases already in the pipeline, but then “the dam will really break.”