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HABC Streamlining Public Housing Waiting List Process

All 27,000 households on the list will receive a postcard asking if they remain interested in living at a public housing community!

(BALTIMORE– January 23, 2019) – The Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) is taking action to make its waiting list for public housing more efficient and move applicants into homes faster. The agency is sending out notices to the 27,000 households on the list, asking applicants if they are still interested in HABC housing. Applicants will be asked to check off “yes” or “no” on a pre-paid postcard and mail it back in.

The purpose of the outreach is to unclog the waiting list.

“The system as it exists is tremendously inefficient,” said HABC Executive Director Janet Abrahams, who in her first 18 months in the job has made numerous improvements aimed at better serving Baltimore City residents. “Many applicants that rise to the top of the list no longer need or want public housing. Others have moved away. These factors mean we have to contact several families when a home becomes available to find one who needs and wants a place to live. By removing people from the list who no longer want HABC housing, the path for those who do will become smoother.”

Those who return the postcards with a “yes” will remain on the list. Those who check “no” will be removed. (The post cards will include a bar code so they can be quickly processed.) If HABC does not hear from a household within 30 days, that family will be placed on a suspended list; however the housing authority will continue attempts to reach the family for a year.

“It’s not fair to those people on the waiting list who need this housing to have their potential move-in delayed by what could be weeks or months because we are having to contact people who no longer want to be on our list,” Abrahams said. “We encourage all of our applicants to respond to this mailing.”

Although HABC is building new homes and renovating other sites, the majority of the agency’s housing stock for families remains located at older, traditional developments. Some people who get to the top of the list and are offered an opportunity are surprised to learn what they have applied for is traditional public housing. Applicants should understand that unless a member of the household is a senior or disabled they will most likely be offered homes at a traditional public housing site.

Reducing the waiting list to only those who wish to be on it is the first step in a plan to streamline the application process and make it more responsive to applicants. Another phase of the plan will be announced later this year.

The waiting list initiative is also part of HABC’s commitment under Director Abrahams to improve housing services, create safer neighborhoods and become an integral community partner throughout the City of Baltimore. Other recent accomplishments and announcements have included dramatically reducing the rat population at HABC communities by 82 percent, earning a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development to transform the Perkins Somerset Oldtown Community, and preparing to demolish the Gilmor Homes to make the site safer for residents and the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood.

“We are making significant progress with many of our community partners in order to create high-quality housing,” Abrahams said. “Most importantly, we are creating new education, recreation and economic opportunities that will connect residents to the tools they need to achieve their personal goals.”

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About HABC: HABC is the fifth largest public housing authority in the U.S., providing quality affordable housing for more than 23,000 households. The agency creates diverse and vibrant communities, provides opportunities for self-sufficiency, and builds pathways for strong partnerships. #bmoreHABC

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