The United Way of Central Maryland announced Tuesday it will expand the Strategic Targeted Eviction Prevention (STEP) Program to serve residents in Baltimore city as well as Baltimore, Harford and Howard counties as the national CDC moratorium on evictions is set to expire this month.
With $43 million from the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), United Way of Central Maryland will work with county and city governments and landlords to pay up to 12 months of back rent for qualified residents. This expanded program is estimated to help approximately 3,100 additional households avoid eviction and potential homelessness over the next 15 months.
Funded through a combination of federal, state and local dollars, this expanded STEP program will bundle large numbers of past-due accounts to prevent evictions in bulk. Rather than requiring tenants to apply individually, the program works directly with landlords and property managers to pay off delinquent accounts.
In order to participate, landlords agreed to waive all fees and costs, dismiss already filed eviction complaints, and not evict tenants for up to 90 days after the account had been settled. Designed to maximize impact, the program uses a data-driven model to focus on communities facing structural poverty and those with the highest rates of housing instability and COVID cases.
Along with this expanded rollout of the STEP program, United Way and its partners will also be able to pay past-due utilities that are owed to landlords, such as electric, water, sewer and trash, as well as provide up to three months of future rent for qualified tenants. This addition to the program addresses the need to keep tenants housed as they get back on their feet. The organization estimates households will qualify for approximately $13,500 in aid. The first iteration of the program provided on average $4,300 per household.