MD CoCs: Community Services Connection Newsletter - February

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Community Services Connections Newsletter! This is a monthly newsletter sent by the Office of Community Services Programs at the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. Each month, we will strive to bring you highlights of programs and initiatives that impact our grantees,  as well as share news articles and important information relevant to your programs, services, and clients. Please send news, events, success stories, and best practices to:


The Office of Community Services Programs is part of the Division of Neighborhood Revitalization within the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. The Office administers federal and state programs aimed at reducing homelessness and poverty across the state. The Office is divided into the Homelessness Solutions Team which administers the state's Homelessness Solutions Program; and the Poverty Solutions Team which administers the Community Services Block Grant program and the Maryland Housing Counseling Fund.


Fair Market Rent Changes for Central Maryland

Fair Market Rents (FMR) established by HUD for central Maryland counties are decreasing by 5% for grants starting in 2020. This change is anticipated to impact rental assistance programs, permanent supportive housing, and homeless prevention assistance. Programs utilizing Continuum of Care funds, Emergency Solutions Grant funds, and Housing Choice Vouchers should work with local partners and funders to determine what budget impacts may occur and begin planning now to identify solutions.  If your Continuum of Care or local government has concerns about the HUD FMR changes and the success of your programs, please reach out to Danielle Meister at
Table showing changes to FMR for affected counties.

Rapid Re-Housing Work Group Webinars

Rapid Re-housing providers are invited to join colleagues and the Homelessness Solutions staff for our monthly webinar to share tips and knowledge for effective RRH services among providers. You can sign up here for the next session on February 19th. Webinars will be held the 3rd Wednesday of each month at 2:00 p.m. 

CoCs Complete Point-in-Time Counts

Continuums of Care across Maryland performed annual Point-in-Time Counts to identify individuals experiencing homelessness and gather data that will help to guide service planning. In addition to dedicated outreach staff and service providers, many communities engaged volunteers to join in the count.

In Montgomery county, 109 community members volunteered to assist with a count extending through the night from 11pm-4am on January 22nd and 23rd.


Maryland Housing Counselors Reach Milestone

According to HUD, Maryland is one of 13 states where more than 50% of its agencies have HUD certified counselors. In fact, 53% of Maryland's housing counseling agencies have HUD certified counselors. 

Funding for Volunteer Non-Medical Assistance Programs

This is a funding opportunity that will support local programs that enlist volunteers to provide non-medical assistance to older adults, persons with disabilities, and family caregivers. Click here for the request for proposals. 


Harm Reduction 101: Training for Community Service Providers

This three-hour workshop will explore frameworks for understanding motivations for and potential harms associated with drug use, underlying philosophy and principles central to a harm reduction approach to working with people who use drugs, and definition(s) and examples of harm reduction in direct service and policy contexts. Two sessions will be offered this Spring:

Census 2020


The Community Action Partnership offers a wealth of resources on the 2020 Census. They are offering a series of events in February to assist organizations through the process, including one-on-one sessions assisting with census outreach.
Tax Prep and the CASH Campaign

The CASH Campaign of Maryland and its partners offer free tax preparation for anyone who earned under $56,000 in 2019. The CASH Campaign also connects taxpayers, community stakeholders, and employers with important information about the Earned Income Tax Credit (federal and state). Learn more here.

Spotlight on Success 

The Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS) provides pro bono legal assistance to Marylanders who can't afford an attorney in civil matters. MVLS created a special program called "Homeowner: My Home, My Deed, My Legacy" to help people navigate deed issues. Read about how they are helping Marylanders stay in their family homes and keep their major wealth-building asset. First Clinic: Dundalk Renaissance (11 Center Place, Dundalk, MD 21222) on March 18, 2020

Please email  if you would like us to include news or events related to your organization in our upcoming newsletter.