Rental Assistance Grant Approved

SALISBURY – A $300,000 grant award will provide emergency rental assistance to Wicomico County residents.

Last week, the Wicomico County Council voted 5-0, with Councilman John Cannon and Councilwoman Nicole Acle abstaining, to accept a $300,000 grant award from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development for emergency rental assistance.

Wicomico County Planner Jesse Drewer told officials last week the grant award would be the third round of funding the county has received from the agency.

“Unlike the other funding we have been awarded, this funding will allow us to pay for the current month’s rent along with eight months in arrears going back to April, to the pandemic’s start,” he said. “There is no income eligibility requirement, which is different than the other rounds.”

While the Wicomico County Department of Planning, Zoning and Community Development would administer the expenditure of grant funding, Drewer noted the $300,000 would be divided among three subrecipients – $200,000 for Salisbury Neighborhood Housing Services, $50,000 for Wicomico County Local Management Board and $50,000 for Wicomico County Habitat for Humanity. He added that eligible tenants would be required to provide a statement from their landlord.

“The only thing that is required for this round is a statement from the landlord of how much you are in arrears …,” he said. “We are accepting applications, based on this acceptance here, on a first-come first-served basis because it is only $300,000.”

When asked if the county could expend the $300,000 by the agency’s December 30 deadline, Drewer said it wouldn’t be a problem. Unlike other funding rounds, he noted, the newest grant would not exclude Salisbury residents.

“We have no issues expending it right now,” he replied. “We have over 150 applications in the waiting process with Salisbury Neighborhood Housing. They have been overwhelmed with this round because it allows us to help the City of Salisbury, compared to previous rounds of funding.”

Council President Larry Dodd questioned why the grant program benefitted renters.

“Do you have any idea why homeowners aren’t eligible?” he asked. “They’re struggling too.”

Drewer said that question had already been directed to the Department of Housing and Community Development.

“We have not gotten any guidance from that,” he said. “It’s been requested multiple times from the Department of Housing and Community Development.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.