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More Eviction Prevention Funds For Baltimore Renters

Tisha Edwards delivering remarks on STEP 2.0 at a Tuesday press conference. Credit: Sarah Y. Kim/WYPR

The nonprofit organization United Way of Central Maryland is expanding an eviction prevention program that will help an estimated 3,100 households.

The program, called the Strategic Targeted Eviction Prevention (STEP) program, will help residents in Baltimore City, as well as Baltimore, Harford and Howard Counties, pay up to a year of back rent.

The expansion, called STEP 2.0, will be using $43 million from the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), as well as state and local funds.

Franklyn Baker, president and CEO of United Way, announced the program’s expansion Tuesday, calling it a “first of its kind.”

“We 're so glad to be able to provide this assistance more broadly, to get funds to more people more quickly,” he said.

Aid from STEP 2.0 goes directly to landlords, as opposed to tenants. Baker said this would prevent evictions sooner than a tenant facing program. Maryland’s eviction moratorium is set to expire in August.

Aid will be allocated to the counties according to their population. Tisha Edwards, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Success in Baltimore City, said about $16 million of the available $43 million ERAP funds will go to Baltimore.

Edwards said this would help Baltimore’s past and ongoing efforts to prevent evictions, noting that since November, the city has dispersed $18.3 million to help nearly 4,000 residents pay rent.

“While this represents significant reach, we know we have only scratched the surface of the need,” she said.

STEP began as a pilot program in late 2020, as a partnership between United Way and Baltimore County. So far, the program has provided more than $4 million for residents facing eviction.

Residents who want to learn more about the program may call 2-1-1. Baker is also encouraging tenants to contact their landlords.

Sarah Y. Kim is WYPR’s health and housing reporter. Kim is WYPR's Report for America corps member, and Anthony Brandon Fellow. 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. Now in her second year as an RFA corps member, Kim is based in Baltimore City.