Section 8 subsidized housing is in high demand throughout the country. Funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Housing Choice Voucher Program gives low-income households the opportunity to rent government- or privately-owned housing. Section 8 tenants in Maryland may have to wait years to get on a waiting list and several more years to receive a voucher, due to the high volume of applicants and limited openings throughout the state.
Apply At More Than One PHA
A HUD-approved public housing authority in Maryland can provide information on upcoming waiting list openings in its jurisdiction. You don't have to live within a PHA's jurisdiction to apply for the housing authority's waiting list. For example, you can live in Baltimore City and apply for a voucher at the Harford County Housing Agency if the waiting list there is open. However, you would have to move to the PHA's jurisdiction upon receiving a voucher. HUD recommends applying at more than one PHA to improve your chances of getting a voucher.
Section 8 vouchers are portable, meaning that you can use them out-of-state if you're accepted by another PHA. However, you must use the voucher within the jurisdiction of the PHA that initially granted your voucher for at least 12 months before moving your voucher to a different area.
Locate Openings at PHAs
Waiting lists throughout Maryland may take several years to open, and when they do accept new applicants, it's usually for a short window of time -- often just a few days. Each PHA maintains its own waiting list and manages the application and selection process differently. Check with the specific PHA for its protocol. Locate PHAs with current or upcoming openings on the Internet at websites such as Affordable Housing Online, or individual PHA websites. For example, the Hagerstown Housing Authority was open at the time of publication.
You may need to update each PHA while you are on their waiting list. Provide new phone numbers and addresses in the interim, as the PHA must be able to contact you when a voucher becomes available. You may be removed from a waiting list if you fail to update your contact information.
Completing the Application
PHAs review your application and supporting documents to determine eligibility. Your application must include income for all household members and you will be required to provide tax returns, pay stubs and award letters for verification purposes. You must meet the area's median income limits for household size. Therefore you must also provide the names of all family members living in your household and their relationship to you on the application. Check HUD's annual income limits for the areas that interest you. You must make no more than 50 percent of the area median income, and most vouchers will go to applicants that make 30 percent or less of the median income.
If your city or county doesn't have a PHA, contact the Rental Service Programs office at the Community Development Administration. It directly administers Section 8 to certain Eastern Shore jurisdictions, Garrett, Allegany and Frederick counties, and the City of Cumberland.