In 2020, the Center of Help joined the team of organizations working on the Anne Arundel County Eviction Prevention Program (EPP). EPP is a county program that helps cover rental payments for low-income families who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Two of our employees, Shannon Rommel and Gabriel Rodriguez, serve as a Spanish-language triage service, assisting the Hispanic county residents in filling out the application and gathering documents to send their case to the four agencies who receive the funds: Arundel Community Development Services (ACDS), Community Action Agency (CAA), Partnership for Children, Youth and Families, and the Annapolis Light House.
In 2020, the Center of Help assisted more than 60 families to apply and get approved for the EPP. Since the new funds arrived in April 2021, Shannon and Gabriel have sent 30 applications, 11 of which have been approved. They are in the process of helping 32 more clients apply and they receive new calls every week from more clients seeking assistance.
Many of the families are struggling financially due to the pandemic and have circumstances similar to that of Norma, a long-term client of the Center. Before the pandemic, Norma was working two jobs. However, since the pandemic arrived in March 2020 she lost one of her jobs working in a restaurant and the one remaining was not enough to keep up with her bills. While searching for another part-time job, she applied for the EPP and was approved! She is confident that this assistance will be enough to catch up on her bills and allow her to move forward working full-time without any debt.