BALTIMORE (WJZ) – The Housing Authority of Baltimore City will receive 278 emergency housing vouchers to help the homeless and other vulnerable groups find and lease affordable places to live.

The $3.1 million allocation from the Department of Housing and Urban Development is the result of the American Rescue Plan, which President Joe Biden signed into law in March.

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The vouchers are specifically targeted to help four categories of people:

  • homeless;
  • at risk of homelessness;
  • recently homeless;
  • and fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking.

These vouchers will work like HABC’s Housing Choice vouchers. A household pays 30 percent of its income toward rent and the voucher covers the remainder. Because the households generally are very low-income, the portion of rent they pay will be extremely low.

HABC will collaborate with the city’s Office of Homeless Services’ Coordinated Access System (CAC) to identify and refer potential clients. The CAC verifies that the individual or family meets one of the four eligibility categories and then hands off to HABC, which will then screen the clients to ensure they are eligible.

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Because the affected families are in such great need, HUD has included additional funding to overcome barriers to finding and leasing a unit. HABC will help these clients with their housing search, security and utility deposits, and application fees, as well as recruit property owners and give those owners incentives to lease to referred clients. HABC may help with moving expenses and if needed, preparing homeless residents for the obligations of managing their apartment or house.

“These vouchers are very much needed and welcomed in our city,” said HABC President and CEO Janet Abrahams. “We are grateful to HUD for recognizing the dire conditions under which too many of Baltimore’s residents live. We have already taken steps to prepare to put this plan into motion and helping meet the need.”

The 278 emergency housing vouchers are in addition to 50 vouchers HABC provided the city’s homeless services office in April. HUD has authorized HABC to begin issuing these vouchers on July 1. The goal is to incrementally have all 278 vouchers issued by the end of October.

“Our partners at HUD have provided us with the tools to successfully administer this program,” Abrahams said. “Now it is our job, working with Mayor Brandon Scott’s administration, to make it happen. We believe we have formed a like-minded partnership for this initiative.”

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Households on HABC’s regular waiting list are not eligible for these vouchers. HABC is informing them through social media and on the agency’s website.

CBS Baltimore Staff