Maryland Section 8: Understanding Housing Assistance Options
- This article answers common questions about the Section 8 housing voucher program in Maryland, including eligibility requirements and steps to get a voucher.
The goal of the Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8, is to help economically disadvantaged families pay for "decent, safe, and sanitary housing". This program identifies individuals and families living in poverty and helps them afford adequate housing.
The Section 8 program is funded by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development but is administered by state or local entities called Public Housing Agencies (PHAs), also known as Housing Authorities. Each state has multiple Housing Authorities spread across its counties and cities, and each Housing Authority executes its Section 8 program in a slightly different way. Families wishing to receive housing vouchers must learn the requirements and process of their particular state/city Authority.
How Do I Find My Local Section 8 Housing Authority in Maryland?
Families seeking housing assistance must file paperwork with their local Housing Authority. Maryland has 34 Housing Authorities spread across its counties and cities. The HUD and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development websites provide contact information for these Housing Authorities.
What Are the Section 8 Eligibility Requirements in Maryland?
To qualify for Section 8 housing, you need to be economically disadvantaged. In general, families need to have an annual income that is 50% below the average income of the local area. For Maryland, the income limit is approximately $20,000 per year.
Other Section 8 requirements include:
- All adults in the house must be US citizens
- All adults in the house must pass a criminal background check (e.g. no drug or sex offenses)
- You must be able to prove your income
- You must pass a character reference check from a previous landlord
What Kind of Section 8 Houses in Maryland Can I Choose?
Section 8 housing participants may choose any rental housing in Maryland, as long as the housing meets the following basic criteria:
- The landlord agrees to do the Section 8 paperwork and meet its requirements
- The rent is fairly priced for the area (the Maryland average is around $1,500 per month)
- The housing meets some basic quality standards (i.e. cannot be a dilapidated house)
How Much Will Section 8 in Maryland Pay?
Section 8 participants may be required to contribute up to 40% of their monthly income toward the rent. The Section 8 vouchers will pay the rest of the rent.
For example, say rent is $1,500 per month. If a family makes $2,000 in income per month, they will be expected to contribute around $800 to rent. The voucher will then pay the remaining $700.
Participants may be able to rent a house that has a higher-than-average rent, but the voucher will never exceed the fair market rent (around $1,500 in Maryland), and the family must cover any rental costs not covered by the voucher.
How Do I Find a Section 8 House in Maryland?
To help you locate housing that is already Section 8 certified, Maryland has developed a website database that you can search. The local Housing Authority may have additional lists of qualified properties.
Does Section 8 in Maryland Have a Waiting List?
The demand for housing vouchers greatly exceeds the supply of federal funds, so nearly all areas have a waiting list. The duration of the wait can extend to months or even years.
What Are the Steps to Receive Section 8 Housing in Maryland?
In general, Section 8 applicants in Maryland can expect the following process:
- Locate and contact your local Housing Authority to learn the specific requirements and process for your local area.
- Complete the paperwork to be added to the waiting list.
- Wait for your name to get to the top of the waiting list, and the Housing Authority will contact you to start the voucher process.
- Complete an application and await final approval.
- Find a house and landlord that qualifies for Section 8.
- The Housing Authority will inspect the property to ensure it meets minimum quality standards.
- Sign the lease.
- Move in!
- Participate in an annual certification to ensure you still qualify for assistance. This annual certification also typically checks to ensure the housing still qualifies.