(Maryland DHCD) Community Services Connection Newsletter - COVID-19 Resources and Updates

COVID-19 Resources and Updates

DHCD will continue to update its COVID-19 resource page that can be found here.
State and Regional Updates
Federal Rental Assistance for Marylanders 
On January 14, 2021, Governor Larry Hogan announced that the State of Maryland is eligible for an estimated $402,439,000 in federal rental assistance made available through the Consolidated Appropriations Act. Read the full press release here.

New Foreclosure Update
On December 17, 2020, Governor Larry Hogan issued executive order number 20-12-17-02 amending and restating the previous executive orders. The Order continues previously announced consumer protections while extending the existing moratorium on foreclosures until January 31, 2021, and granting the Commissioner of Financial Regulation the authority to further extend the moratorium and to issue binding and/or non-binding directives, advisories, and/or guidance under the Order. Binding guidance from the Commissioner can be found here.

Energy Assistance 
The Public Service Commission has issued consumer protections around utility turn-off notices and payment plans. Some of these protections include 12 and 24 month payment plans. A summary of these rulings from The Office of People's Counsel (OPC) can be found here.
The OPC has also created an energy assistance toolkit to help Maryland households facing utility turn-off notices keep their power on. This toolkit includes videos on how to fill out the Office of Home Energy Programs application, application forms, and resource guides.

On December 30, 2020, Governor Larry Hogan announced that more than $154 million is available in energy assistance funds to help cover heating, electric, and gas utility bills through the following programs: 
  • Maryland Energy Assistance Program provides financial assistance with home heating bills, natural gas arrearage assistance, crisis assistance, and furnace repair or replacement. 
  • Electric Universal Service Program provides bill payment assistance and arrearage assistance for electric customers. 
  • Electric and Gas Retirement Assistance Programs help pay past due balances on electric and gas utility accounts. 
Additional information about each program and how to apply is available on the Office of Home Energy Programs website.

Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act
On December 27, 2020 the federal COVID-19 relief package that extends and provides additional federal unemployment benefits was signed into law. An overview of the unemployment insurance programs can be found here. The Maryland
Department of Labor has started taking claims and issuing payments. Claimants can find detailed information and next steps here.

Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Program 
The Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Program is in the midst of recruiting for their 2021 Registered Apprenticeship class, Plumbers and Steamfitters 486. Flyers with more information are available in English and Spanish and information on how to apply can be found here
National and Federal Updates
Upcoming CDC Webinar
On Tuesday, January 19 at 2:00 PM, CDC staff will provide the most recent updates about COVID-19 vaccination for people experiencing homelessness. The webinar will cover COVID-19 vaccine basics, safety, the prioritization of persons experiencing homelessness for COVID-19 vaccination, special considerations for the vaccination of this population, and an example strategy from the Minnesota Department of Health. To register, click here

Conducting an Unsheltered PIT Count During COVID-19
University of Pennsylvania researchers have updated their new guidance for conducting a street-based Point-in-Time (PIT) count during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to insights and advice released last week, the updated report includes important new recommendations for ensuring health and safety among enumerators and those being counted.

HUD Guidance on Vaccine Strategies
New guidance from the HUD outlines how homeless service providers can prioritize vaccination, use cross-sector partnerships, plan out logistics, engage the community, and distribute these roles and responsibilities among staff.

HUD's Rental Housing Counseling and Eviction Prevention Webpage 
HUD's new Rental Housing Counseling and Eviction Prevention webpage is designed for housing counselors working with clients to prevent eviction. HUD's Office of Housing Counseling is hosting a webinar series to help housing counseling agencies prepare for rental housing counseling amid the COVID-19 National Emergency.
Please email CSConnection.dhcd@maryland.gov if you would like us to include news, events, or job openings related to your organization in our upcoming newsletter.
Unless otherwise indicated, events and external links listed are for informational purposes only and not a guarantee of the validity or accuracy of the information contained therein, nor constitutes an endorsement on the part of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development of any products or services that may be offered.