The Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) administers the federally funded U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program for individuals and families qualifying for affordable housing. The program, previously known as “Section 8”, is now administered as the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP). Capacity for accepting HCVP applicants continually varies, with HABC recently (Q1 2021) adding 50 Housing Choice Vouchers to the count.
As a landlord, or someone new to the Baltimore County property management business, it helps to know what Section 8 is all about, and how you can do your part to support deserving members of your local community get safe and affordable housing.
Understanding Section 8 and HCVP
So, what exactly is HCVP, and what risks and opportunities does it offer landlords and property managers?
Despite best local, State and Federal government efforts, housing affordability is still a challenge – even in Maryland. With a statistic of 104.6 people per 100,000 population, Maryland ranks 27th on the list of homelessness in U.S. cities. Though this is far lower than the national level, it should still be a cause for concern for most socially-conscious landlords. HCVP is a step to assist low-income individuals and families, senior citizens, and people with special needs and disabilities afford safe, livable housing in the private market.
DILIGENCE AND PROTECTIONS
Like in every other city, Baltimore City voucher-holders must comply with the prescribed process laid out by the program administrators, and must meet the minimum requirements set out for program participation, including:
- Qualify as a category of individual/family deserving of rental assistance
- Demonstrate proof of income that meets the threshold set out by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- Satisfy background check requirements, including criminal checks and verification of previous compliance with any other rental assistance program rules
HCVP administrators designed these requirements to provide some additional level of safety and protection to participating landlords viz. the quality of pre-screening for deserving tenants. However, landlords and property management companies in Baltimore MD are free (and encouraged!) to conduct their own diligence.
Landlord In Control
Section 8 is not about the government imposing it’s will on landlords to supply rental units to less fortunate community members. The law’s primary objective is to provide safe, affordable housing to those who need it the most. Nothing in its provisions usurp control of property from landlords.
If you are new to Section 8, you may have misgivings about what assisted-rental support entails. Many landlords have the idea that vouchers entitle renters to lower rents than non-assisted tenants. Wrong!
Section 8 does not interfere with your right, as a property owner, to determine what you should charge as rent. If you are considering enlisting in the HCVP, it might be prudent to speak with professionals in property management in Baltimore County, or with a realtor first, to determine your rate structure. Additionally, the landlord or property owner determines the asking price of rent.
A Win-Win for Landlords and Assisted Tenants
So, why would anyone consider volunteering to support Section 8 housing initiatives? Well, one of the best reasons for participation in the HCVP is a sense of community service. Whether you own rental units, or are involved in property management in Baltimore MD on behalf of landlords, supporting those less fortunate than you is considered a civic duty – one that has it’s own rewards.
However, HCVP participation comes with many tangible, and financial, rewards for landlords too:
- You get opportunities to market your property for free on the HCV program website, as well as post flyers and signage at HABC offices
- Additional layer of tenant screening through HABC-conducted criminal background checks
- Partially “insured” Income, since a portion of your HCVP rent is subsidized by HUD
- Protection from financial losses, if HCV renters suffer financial setbacks. The HCVP will compensate participating landlords for any decrease in income
Partnering with a governmental agency, to get tenants into your apartments, provides just that additional bit of financial protection not available with non-voucher renters. The program also helps landlords tap into a more diversified group of tenants, instead of renting to the same group that most other landlords cater to. Plus, it delivers you the satisfaction of going the extra mile – in supporting your community.
As a landlord, or property manager, you’re probably doing your best to support your local community – because that’s where most of your constituency of tenants live. If you are one of the many property management companies in Baltimore MD that want to do more, then why not learn all you can about Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP). You’ll be supporting a good cause, while also reaping the many benefits HCVP offers to qualifying landlords and property owners.