Rental help available for Wicomico residents

Wicomico County residents who have fallen behind on their rent payments because of loss of income during the Covid-19 pandemic may be eligible for help from a $1.1 million federal grant to the county.

The money will be split between three agencies in the county: the Wicomico County Local Management Board and Habitat for Humanity Wicomico County will each receive $500,000 and MAC Inc. will get $177,120, Planning Director Lori Carter told County Council members.

“We’re super excited to help as many families as we can,” Molly Hilligoss, Executive Director of Habitat, said in a video posted on Facebook.

The grant funds to the county are available only to people who live outside Salisbury limits. The city received a separate $200,000 coronavirus relief grant in June, said City Administrator Julia Glanz. Of that amount, $103,000 went to Salisbury Neighborhood Housing Services for rental assistance, and the money is actively being distributed. The city also is expected to get additional funding in the next round of grants, she said.

Residents eligible for the new grant to Wicomico County are people whose income is less than 80 percent of the median income. Residents of public or subsidized housing are ineligible.

Paper applications for the assistance are available at Habitat’s office at 908 W. Isabella St. and at the Restore next to it, Hilligoss said. The application also is available on Habitat’s website, wicomicohabitat.org, and both French Creole and Spanish language versions will be available by Friday.

The nonprofit will begin accepting applications on Aug. 3, she said. The grants will be awarded using rules from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Applicants for rental assistance will need to provide a copy of their lease as well as a letter from the landlord stating that their rent is in arrears.

They also will need to document the loss of their job or reduction of hours and provide income information including tax returns, copies of their last paychecks, bank statements, child support, Social Security, veterans benefits, pensions or other retirement income.

Unemployment benefits will count as income, but not the federal stimulus payments, Hilligoss said.

Once an application is approved, rent covering the months of May, June and July will be sent directly to the landlord.

Wicomico was one of eight counties to receive more than $2.3 million in the first round of Maryland Eviction Prevention Partnership grants, funded through the federal Community Development Block Grant program, according to Gov. Larry Hogan’s office.

Awards to other counties were Allegheny $55,000, Cecil $100,000, Charles $200,000, Frederick $722,129, Kent $84,246, Queen Anne’s $80,000 and Somerset $100,000.

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