Rental assistance backlog leaves hundreds of Prince George's Co. families living in limbo

There’s a backlog of nearly 2,000 families waiting for rental assistance from Prince Georges County, including some who say they applied over a year ago and are now facing eviction. 

There are multiple people living at Hickory Hill Apartments in Hillcrest Heights who are living in limbo, waiting for aid and now facing eviction for non-payment. 

Tiara Routh said she applied for Prince George’s County’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) in May 2021. 

"As the months went on, I’m thinking it’s just me dealing with the situation and nobody else," Routh said.  

After getting a notice saying she has to vacate her apartment in October, Routh started talking to neighbors at Hickory Hill and found others in her same situation: still reeling from lost wages during the pandemic and behind on rent. 

Some residents are way behind on payments. One woman tells FOX 5 she owes $40,000. 

Mark Greenberg, a regional manager for Hickory Hill’s owner, Rushmore Management, said there are over 20 people at that property alone who owe more than $30,000 in back rent. 

Greenberg criticized the county’s slow moving process calling the system "flawed." 

Landlords and property owners are supposed to apply for assistance on behalf of tenants and Greenberg maintains his team has submitted paperwork in a timely manner, although residents have also criticized communication from management.

ERAP will pay up to a year and a half of unpaid rent and a spokesperson for the county’s Department of Housing and Community Development tells FOX 5, so far, nearly $84 million has been distributed to over 8,800 applicants.   

"Prince George’s has been leading the state in households assisted and dollars disbursed and as a result, we received additional funding from our state and federal partners as it was made available, which allows us to continue assisting eligible households in need," said spokeswoman Alexis Yeoman in an emailed statement.  

But even though the county stopped taking applications in December, there’s still a backlog of nearly 2,000 applicants.  

The department declined an interview and didn’t explain what specifically was causing the long delays.  

"Our team is working diligently to serve the eligible applicants who are still in the queue," Yeoman said.  

Hickory Hill resident Isaiah Carr said he’s been homeless before and is worried it could happen again. He said he lives with his aunt and his two cousins, and they are also waiting for rental assistance. Carr said he lost his job during the pandemic and got behind on rent, but he’s since found employment. 

"I’ve been trying to save money, but this pandemic and also inflation is messing me up right now," Carr said. 

Both he and Routh said they’ve received notices saying they have to vacate their apartments by Oct. 21. 

"It’s not easy to get a second chance apartment with this being on your credit at all," Routh said.