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Baltimore Mayor Jack Young is calling on city residents to respond to the 2020 Census. The Census Bureau announced last week that counting efforts will end on Sept. 30, four weeks earlier than originally planned.

“This is something each of us can do to help the future of our city. It only takes 10 minutes, but it's that important,” Young said at a press conference Wednesday morning. 

Young said responding to the census is more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. For each person not counted, the city loses $18,000 of federal funding for various services over the course of 10 years, he said.

SARAH Y. KIM

At least two people died and at least seven were critically injured after a gas explosion in Northwest Baltimore that destroyed three homes Monday morning. 

The explosion, which occurred near Labyrinth and Reisterstown roads shortly before 10 a.m., damaged surrounding homes. More than 200 rescue personnel from Baltimore City and surrounding counties were on the scene through the evening, searching for victims trapped in the rubble. The cause of the explosion is still unknown.

 

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Dr. Jay Perman, Chancellor of the University System of Maryland, said Thursday he decided to open the state’s 12 public colleges and universities with combined in-person and virtual learning this fall based on student feedback. 

“If we took a blanket approach and said nobody can come to campus I don’t think we would be serving the public good,” Perman said at a press call.

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Tropical Storm Isaias struck the Mid Atlantic this morning, bringing inland freshwater flooding and strong gusts of winds to Baltimore City. 

While heavy rainfall subsided early this afternoon, James Wallace, Acting Director of the City’s Emergency Management Office, says residents should be vigilant for storm-related hazards. 

“While the ground remains saturated, high winds are always a concern because they'll start to bring down trees and bring down power lines,” he said. 

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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. 

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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 . 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.” 

 

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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.