The COVID-19 pandemic has created mass unemployment and income loss for many Americans, including those in Maryland. A moratorium administered by the state has been lifted, which means relief will be ending soon. Raymond Nevo ’20 argues it shouldn’t.
“Here in Maryland, the moratorium on utility shut-offs has been lifted and nearly 300,000 households, that we know of, will be getting their utilities disconnected just before Thanksgiving, right before winter, during a pandemic, if they cannot pay their balance in-full,” said Nevo. “We are still living in a pandemic, and as we head into the coldest months of the year, at a time when people are being asked to remain home as much as possible, it would be sadistic to disconnect struggling families from utilities simply because they owe a debt due to no fault of their own.”
In response to the pandemic, many states, including Maryland, opted to issue moratoriums on evictions and utility shut-offs. However, citing that the expiration has been extended multiple times to give families time to prepare, Maryland has lifted the moratorium and its associated support will end in upcoming weeks.
As a state policy & equity advocate at the National Housing Trust (NHT), this is not Nevo’s first time advocating on this topic. In April, after the state issued the moratorium on evictions, Nevo argued that the government should do more to assist newly unemployed residents from financial distress. According to Nevo, eviction moratoriums do not remove the responsibility of tenants to pay their rent and do not adequately protect residents when the moratorium expires.
Nevo said that his time at the School of Public Policy contributed to his desire to advocate on behalf of his fellow Marylanders and address issues that are often overlooked, especially within housing policy.
During my time at UMD, I developed an interest in housing policy and the intersections between housing, education and health, as well as the inequities that exist across all of those structures.Raymond Nevo '20
“During my time at UMD, I developed an interest in housing policy and the intersections between housing, education and health, as well as the inequities that exist across all of those structures,” Nevo said. “One professor, Michael Bodaken, noted my passion and introduced me to the [NHT]...I started this job six weeks before the March shut-down, and since then all of our coalitions have been working non-stop to ensure that people are able to remain in their homes and keep the lights on.”
Nevo proposes that the utility moratorium should be extended to March 2021, allowing families to get through the winter safely, with equitable repayment plans in place. He encourages any at-risk Maryland residents to attend the public hearings before the Maryland Public Service Commission on Nov. 9 and 10. Nevo and the NHT will be testifying on delaying the moratorium expiration, but they encourage residents to come forward with their own stories and needs.
“We need to hear from those who are at risk of disconnection,” Nevo said. “It is unclear how many Marylanders could be impacted, but we know in the Baltimore area alone there are 130,000 disconnection notices ready for delivery. This leaves us to believe that there are potentially hundreds of thousands of families on track to receive a disconnection notice.”