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The Dripby Fern Shen11:15 amJan 5, 20220

Renter advocates dispute Scott’s claim he has no authority to suspend evictions

Jack Young halted evictions in 2020 and the current mayor should do so again, they say

Above: On Bath Street, women wait for transport to a shelter. Covid-19 makes preventing evictions in Baltimore especially urgent, advocates say. (2016 photo, Fern Shen)

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, then-Mayor Jack Young announced that he, together with the city’s sheriff and a district judge, had halted evictions.

The three officials “put in place a policy to allow people to remain in their homes while schools and many other government buildings are closed due to COVID-19,” a mayoral press release declared at the time.

Yesterday, with the pandemic resurging with omicron variant cases, the advocates called on the city’s current mayor, sheriff and judiciary to again suspend evictions.

But Mayor Brandon Scott told them no, saying the city doesn’t have the authority to do so.

Today the renter advocates who organized yesterday’s news conference said – citing Young’s well-documented past action – that they don’t accept Scott’s answer.

“We stand behind our position that the sheriff, court and mayor collaborated on March 12, 2020, to suspend evictions in Baltimore City to protect public health and safety, and they should do so again,” said a statement from Baltimore Renters United.

With Covid-19 resurgent, advocates call on Baltimore to again suspend evictions (1/4/22)

Scott, who claims suspending evictions is a matter of state law, has encouraged the governor “to sincerely consider eviction relief or delegate power to local governments.”

The advocates also urged Gov. Larry Hogan to do so, and said they “appreciated the work of the mayor’s office to expedite rental assistance.”

But they reiterated their plea for local political leaders to act urgently to protect vulnerable people as Baltimore’s Covid case count rises to its highest level and overloaded hospitals are shifting to emergency status.

“You cannot quarantine to prevent the spread of Covid if you do not have a home,” they wrote. “With our hospitals filling and hundreds of evictions scheduled in the next weeks, we cannot wait.”

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