Recent research has made clear that preventing evictions stabilizes families, schools, and entire communities. Students facing eviction are six times more likely to be chronically absent and four times more likely to not complete high school.
Animated by the appreciation that educational stability is directly linked to housing stability, a bill pending in the Maryland legislature would provide emergency rental assistance to qualifying Maryland community school students and their families. The bill, known as the Rental Assistance for Community School Families, is supported by the Maryland Access to Justice Commission’s Public Interest Law Committee (PILC) (formerly Delivery of Legal Services Committee), Renters United Maryland, and many civil legal aid organizations that sit on the A2JC, including Maryland Legal Aid, Public Justice Center, PBRC and more.
Located throughout Maryland, community schools provide support for families by coordinating wrap-around services such as transportation, healthcare, counseling, and healthful food. Students who are evicted from their housing lose ready access to the support of their community school and to all of these supportive services.
Recent research demonstrates that a fully funded program under this legislation would more than pay for itself. Specifically, every dollar spent on eviction prevention saves the State $2.39 by avoiding state-funded safety-net expenditures for foster care, incarceration, unemployment, and income instability among others. Further, eviction prevention through rental assistance furthers gender and racial equity as women-led and Black-led households face disproportionate levels of eviction.
The bill calls for the provision of emergency rental assistance and utility payments to eligible Maryland community school students and their families. If the bill becomes law, payments will be made directly to a landlord or utility company to assist with:
- Rental payments or arrears, or fines or fees associated with those payments; and
- Utility payments or arrears, or fines or fees associated with those payments.
For a family to be eligible for assistance under the program, a student in the family must be:
- Enrolled in a community school that receives funding under the Concentration of Poverty School Grant Program (CPG);
- Counted under compensatory education enrollment;
- Housed in a rental property where at least one household member is at risk of homelessness or housing instability, as evidenced by past-due rent or utility notices, unsafe living conditions, or other evidence; and
- From a household where at least one member is experiencing financial hardship, as evidenced by receipt of unemployment benefits or other evidence.
It is anticipated that local school systems can identify eligible families using existing resources.
Under the bill, an eligible household may receive support for up to 12 months, but subject to the availability of funding, support may be extended for up to an additional three months, as specified.
The bill is SB 370, cross-filed with HB 428. Sponsors of the respective bills are Senator Hettleman and Delegate Stewart. The bills establish a mandated appropriation for FY 2026.