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Scott Signs Security Deposit Relief Act Into Law

Mayor Brandon Scott (center) shortly before signing the bill, with City Council President Nick Mosby (left) and Vice President Sharon Green Middleton (right). Credit: Screenshot/Charm TV Baltimore Livestream

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott signed into law Thursday a bill to establish a grant program to help low-income renters pay security deposits.

The Emergency Security Deposit Relief Act would provide renters a one-time payment of up to $2,000 for security deposits from the Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Success.

To be eligible for the program, renters must be residing in Baltimore City at the time of application and meet certain income requirements.

Scott said the bill came out of a “deep partnership” with the City Council.

“We as a city will do everything we can to prevent evictions and promote long term housing stability for our residents and our families,” he said at the bill signing ceremony.

City Council Vice President Sharon Green Middleton introduced the bill in June shortly after the mayor vetoed another bill she sponsored on security deposit alternatives.

That bill, which would have required some landlords to give low-income tenants the option of paying their deposits in installments or buying surety bonds, met months of intense pushback from local housing advocates.

Middleton said security deposits have long been a barrier to affordable housing.

“I'm just so excited that we have taken something to the next level,” she said.

City Council President Nick Mosby thanked the mayor at the ceremony, saying it was “an interesting journey” to this point. Mosby had sharply criticized Scott’s veto in May, calling it “modern day redlining, with an outsized impact by a vocal advocacy class.”

He called the mayor his “partner in progress.”

“This shows your government working for you unified behind a common theme, understanding that there's different paths and different ways up a mountain for a common goal,” Mosby said. “We will continue to break down the barriers that are in the way of progress for our young folks, for our communities, for our families.”

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.