Voucher Holder Information
After completing the pre-move counseling program, participants will receive a voucher to begin their housing search. The voucher is provided at a briefing where details about the leasing process are shared and discussed. Aspects of the leasing process include housing search assistance, searching for a unit in an opportunity area, rent calculation and voucher value as well as security deposit assistance. For more information see the Frequently Asked Questions.
BRHP provides housing search assistance to new and existing voucher holders. We hold a workshop once a month to help you in your search process. Additionally, if you need transportation to a unit or would like someone to meet with you and the landlord, our Housing Search counselors can help. Please feel free to call them for advice or to schedule an appointment. See the Staff Directory for contact information.
You can use your voucher in opportunity areas throughout the Baltimore region. These include, but are not limited to, areas in Howard County (Columbia, Ellicott City), Harford County (Bel Air), Anne Arundel County (Annapolis, Pasadena, Arnold, Odenton, Crofton, Severn), Baltimore County (Towson, Timonium, Lutherville, Perry Hall), and Carroll County (Eldersburg). These are only a few examples of the opportunity areas in the Baltimore region. There are many more. If you find a unit you are interested in, you can use our BRHP Opportunity Area Search Tool to find out if the property is in an opportunity area and if the rent is acceptable. Visit our County and City Resources page for information on services and resources available in each county and Baltimore city.
We provide three unit referrals at your voucher briefing. Please check out those units. If they are not right for you, you can try one of the websites listed on the handout Housing Search Resources from your voucher briefing packet.
Rental Search Tools
The Baltimore Housing Mobility Program provides housing referrals to voucher holders but also understands that families may want to conduct their own housing search. You can use rental search websites, but be aware that many listings may not be in opportunity areas.
If you find a unit on your own and want to see if it is allowable and affordable, use the BRHP Opportunity Area Search Tool and enter the property information. This tool will tell you if the property is located in opportunity area, and it will give you an estimate of affordable rent. If the rental amount of the property is more than the amount given on the website, the unit is not affordable.
There is no set dollar amount attached to a voucher. The subsidy amount for a voucher depends on your income, your voucher size, and the payment standard for the area where you chose to live. To find out what the payment standard is for a unit you are interested in, use the BRHP Opportunity Area Search Tool. Enter the address of the property and your voucher size, and the tool will give you the range of acceptable rents for the area where you are looking.
If you need security deposit assistance you must contact a counselor to apply for the security deposit loan before you sign your lease. Remember you are responsible for a portion of the security deposit and your portion of your first month’s rent.
Next Steps After Finding a Unit
After you find a unit you would like to rent, complete an application for unit. Remember, the landlord must approve you and can do his or her own background and credit check, which may require a fee. The fee may be up to $100 per applicant over the age of 18, so be prepared. Some apartment complexes may ask another fee of up to $350 to hold the apartment. Make sure you have access to your money to pay that fee. If you are denied, some complexes can take 30 days to return that money. Also remember that some landlords require a pet deposit (about $250 to $500) and “pet rent” (about $25 to $35 each month). Once the landlord approves you, give him or her the Request for Tenancy Approval form (RTA) located in the voucher briefing packet. Make sure you sign all parts of the RTA form.
Inspection and RTA Process
Once the RTA has been submitted we will review the documents in detail. It can take up to three weeks to process an RTA. During this time, we will not contact you, but you should be preparing to move. We will tell the landlord if the unit passes inspection, and the landlord will then contact you. Please contact the landlord for updates.
Signing Your Lease
The landlord will contact you if the unit passes inspection to arrange a time for you to sign your lease. Remember to call BGE to transfer service or set up new service and to purchase renter’s insurance if your landlord requires it. Even if your landlord does not require it, it is wise to have renter’s insurance.
Q: What is an "allowable" or "opportunity" area? How can I determine if a home or apartment I'm looking at is in an allowable area?
A: “Allowable areas,” also called "opportunity areas, are communities with good schools, goods and services, low crime rates, and low poverty concentrations. To see if a home is in an Opportunity Area, use the BRHP Opportunity Area Search Tool.
Randallstown (21133), Woodlawn (21207), Milford Mill (21244), Essex (21221), Lochearn (21207) Windsor Mill (21244), Gwynn Oak (21207), Middle River (21220), Dundalk (21222, 21224)
Yes, Hampden (21211), Roland Park (21210), Cedarcroft (21212), Mount Washington (21209), Highlandtown (below Eastern Ave) (21224), Greektown (21224), Canton (21224), Butchers Hill (21231), and Fells Point (21231).
A: Subsidy standards are based on the family composition and HUD approved standards. Generally, HUD allows 2 people per bedroom. Our Administrative Plan is more generous than the HUD maximum standards. Our standards take into consideration generation differences and exceptions due to medical reasons. Contact your housing counselor if you feel your family has a special circumstance that would require additional space for your family.
A: At the initial voucher briefings, you will learn how to combine rent and utility expenses and subtract the voucher subsidy to determine if a property is affordable to you or not. Your counselor is available to help you determine if the unit is affordable. The property search tool will also provide a range of rents that should be affordable for a particular address. Check the rent range using the BRHP Opportunity Area Search Tool.
A: No. You should not sign a lease before you are given the approval to move into the unit. The Baltimore Housing Mobility Program cannot approve payment for an owner until the unit passes an inspection, the rent reasonableness has been determined, and then all leasing documents are completed.
A: The processing of the leasing varies, depending on the length of time it takes for both you and the owner to provide all needed information, the owner’s availability for the inspection, and how quickly the owner corrects any HQS deficiencies (if present) in the unit after inspection.
A: You will always pay at least 30 percent of your adjusted income regardless of the unit you select. The Baltimore Housing Mobility Program uses a HUD approved formula to determine your family contribution toward rent and utilities. If 30 percent of your income is $300, and you have a utility allowance of $200, your portion of the rent will be at least $100. You will never pay more than 40 percent of your monthly adjusted income in your first year of living in a unit.
A: It is the estimated cost of utilities based on usual consumption in a particular area. It is assigned based on unit size and unit type. View the Utility Allowance Charts.
A: You pay the difference. The utility chart is reviewed at least annually to determine if the consumption rate is accurate for the area. If you are having problems with high utilities, contact your housing counselor for possible resources.
A: Subsidy standards are based on the family composition and HUD approved standards. Generally, HUD allows two (2) people per sleeping area. Our Administrative Plan is more generous than the HUD maximum standards. Our standards take into consideration generational differences and exceptions due to medical reasons. Contact your housing counselor if you feel your family has a special circumstance that would require additional space for your family.
A: The Baltimore Housing Mobility Program determines your tenant portion of rent based on the rent charged by the owner, payment standards, family income, and family composition. We notify all tenants and owners in writing about the appropriate portions required.
A: It is the family’s responsibility to report all income amounts and sources to us. HUD has a list of incomes that are not included when determining rent, although these sources must be reported regardless of whether it is includable income or not. The program follows HUD guidelines when counting income for a family.
A: You will need to submit an Interim Change form to the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program to add the family member, provide the requested documentation for the family member and await program’s approval before moving an additional person into your unit. If you move someone into your unit without the approval you will jeopardize your housing assistance and your assistance may be terminated.
A: You must always report family composition changes and income changes within 10 days of the action using an Interim Change form. The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) department will advise you about any documentation necessary to add a family member.
A: You must report all changes in family composition and income using the Interim Change form within ten (10) days or it could result in a termination from the program for not reporting changes.
A: The HCV Department will process your change within 30 to 60 days. Please remember to continue to pay your landlord your rental portion until further notification is received.
A: You are required to report any changes in your family composition and or income within 10 days of the change. The Baltimore Housing Mobility Program will send out requests to update your family status at least once every two years after your lease up with the program. If we find discrepancies in your reported income and income information collected by HUD, we may request status updates more frequently.
A: Always notify your landlord first. Maintenance issue requests to the owner should be made in writing. It the problems are life threatening, also contact us. If the landlord does not respond within a reasonable time frame, send a copy of the written notice that was sent to the owner to the Inspections Department
A: The Baltimore Housing Mobility Program will complete an inspection before you move into your unit and at least once every two years under normal circumstances. If you are experiencing maintenance issues and your landlord is not responsive, we may schedule an additional inspection on your unit.
Q: I am a current resident who wants to move. Whom should I talk to and do I have to complete a special form?
A: If you are interested in moving you can speak directly to your assigned Housing Counselor. Yes, you will need to complete an Request to Move form and notify your landlord with a copy of this notice.