The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development oversees the Housing Choice Voucher Program throughout the state and at the local level in 10 counties. There are also public housing authorities in Maryland that administer the program at a local level in the other 14 counties.
The Housing Choice Voucher Program, also referred to as Section 8, is a federal initiative that’s funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The program is designed to help low-income families, seniors and disabled individuals obtain safe, affordable housing by issuing a voucher that subsidizes a portion of the monthly rent. Voucher recipients are able to select a rental unit on the private market as long as it meets basic requirements.
Section 8 Eligibility in Maryland
Section 8 programs provide much needed rental housing assistance in Maryland, however, the number of vouchers given to the state is limited. Because of this, only families in the greatest need for financial assistance will be eligible for Section 8 housing vouchers.
It’s up to the local public housing authorities (PHAs) in Maryland to determine who is and isn’t eligible for Section 8 assistance. The key determining factor is whether or not an applicant meets the income limit requirement.
Section 8 Income Limits in Maryland
Generally speaking, only families and individuals with an annual household income at or below 50% of the median household income for their area will be eligible for Section 8 assistance in Maryland. Before taking the time to apply, it’s best to check the Maryland income limits for the current year. HUD has defined the income limits for the major cities and metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the state based on median household income and family size.
Maryland Section 8 Eligibility FAQ
How do I qualify for Section 8 housing in Maryland?
The first step to becoming eligible for the Maryland Section 8 housing program is to apply. Applicants who don’t meet the income requirements have certain criminal convictions or outstanding debts with a landlord will be ineligible.
How do I apply for Section 8 Housing in Maryland?
Applications will be available through the local PHA or the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development depending on where you live. Some Maryland PHAs now provide online application forms, and all PHAs should have hard copies that can be submitted by mail or in person. You’ll be asked to provide information about your household income, assets, employment, family composition, current housing, past housing history and any other benefits you are currently receiving.
Are there housing requirements for the Section 8 voucher program in Maryland?
Yes. Voucher recipients are allowed to select their own rental property, but the property must meet three requirements. 1) The rental must meet the HUD Housing Quality Standards (HQS). 2) The rental must be offered at a fair rate that’s comparable to similar homes in the area. 3) The voucher recipient should pay no more than 40% of their adjusted monthly income on housing and utilities.
Section 8 Housing Openings in Maryland
Each PHA in Maryland is allotted a set amount of vouchers, and once they are awarded all remaining applicants will be put on a waiting list. Once the waiting list is full, the PHA will stop accepting applications. In some areas of Maryland where the need for assistance is substantial, the waiting list can be closed for months or even years.
Section 8 Waiting Lists in Maryland
Managing the waiting lists is a huge undertaking for Maryland PHAs. Each housing authority will decide when to open their waiting list, the positions of applications on the list and whether an applicant should be removed.
Here are two examples of how Maryland PHAs manage their waiting list:
Baltimore Section 8 Waiting List
The City of Baltimore housing authority places applicants on the waiting list on a first come first served basis.
Rockville Section 8 Waiting List
The Rockville Housing Enterprises PHA will periodically reach out to applicants on the waiting list to make sure they still qualify for assistance. Those who don’t respond will be dropped from the waiting list.
Steps to Using Your Maryland Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher
Once you finally receive a Maryland Section 8 voucher you’ll have to follow the program guidelines to put it to use. All voucher recipients must follow these basic steps:
Step 1. Complete the PHA Interview
After you’ve been approved for a voucher the local PHA will schedule an interview. A PHA representative will review your information to ensure you still meet the Section 8 requirements.
Step 2. Find Eligible Housing
You can choose any apartment, townhome or house on the private market as long as it meets the requirements noted above. The landlord must also be willing to participate in the Section 8 program.
Step 3. Notify the PHA to Line Up an Inspection Finalize the Lease
Once you’ve found an eligible housing unit contact your PHA. The PHA will have to schedule an inspection of the property to verify it meets the HUD HQS.
Step 4. Finalize the Lease and Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) Contract
If the property passes the inspection you can then finalize a lease with the landlord that’s at least 12 months long. The landlord must also execute a HAP contract with the PHA.
Step 5. Comply With the Requirements and Complete the Annual PHA Review
In order to continue receiving assistance each month, Maryland Housing Choice Voucher recipients must comply with the terms of their lease and the Section 8 program. The PHA will also conduct an annual review of the property and look over your information to verify that everything is still in compliance.