In most major urban communities in Maryland especially in Baltimore City, tenant eviction is a major community problem. In the years 2008 – 2012, property owners filed a monthly average of 140,000 complaints on rent default and eviction in the Maryland District Court. In 2008 - 2009, after attending four days of District Court hearings in Baltimore City to get an eyewitness understanding of the tenant eviction process, it was evident that financial education was a critical missing component in addressing tenant eviction. In most of the situations, it was not as if tenants did not have income. Most of the tenants (low-income households) were not making rent payment a priority, running out of money before the end of the month with no backup funds as savings for emergencies, and some tenants were perpetual lease defaulters.
In 2009, the University of Maryland Extension-Baltimore City finance educator organized a meeting with community agencies and stakeholders that provides rental housing to subsidized and unsubsidized income households. The central focus of the meeting was the essence of a community effort to promote awareness on rent default and eviction prevention through financial management education intervention. This was the inception of Housing Eviction Prevention Seminars.
The objective of housing eviction prevention education is to provide financial management classes to tenants to acquire knowledge, and skills in better decision-making in budgeting income to pay rent timely, minimize consumption, and maximize saving. Also, financial management classes would enable tenants to acquire knowledge from participating in credit, debit, identity theft, and workforce development classes. The second objective is to provide professional development seminars as financial management skill enhancement to frontline staff working with rental housing and human services agencies. Staff is encouraged to become mentors to the tenants in need of assistance with financial management.