DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT: EXPAND THE AREA IN WHICH HABC DIRECTLY ADMINISTERS SECTION 8 UNITS

10-J
DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT: EXPAND THE AREA IN WHICH HABC
DIRECTLY ADMINISTERS SECTION 8 UNITS
Problem Identification:
Although HABC has a policy of encouraging participants to consider housing in areas outside the City of Baltimore which have low concentrations of poor and minority families, participants who find units outside the City are required to transfer their City vouchers to county vouchers, requiring a second eligibility review, including a re-determination of their financial eligibility and a second criminal background check. From an efficiency perspective, this political/ bureaucratic arrangement is a significant impediment to the successful implementation of mobility programs, to full utilization of Section 8 vouchers, and to the operation of free-market forces within the Baltimore area.

Recommended Actions:
Expand the area in which HABC directly administers Section 8 units to include surrounding counties.

Classification:
Organizational, Service Improvement

Function/Operational Area:
HABC/Section 8

Estimated Annual Impact:
While the immediate financial impact cannot be estimated, implementation should lead to the removal of artificial barriers to participant portability, allow free market forces to work, and increase program efficiency.

Estimated Implementation Costs:
None

Barriers to Implementation:
Higher cost of conducting inspections over broader area. May be offset by contracting with local inspectors. Generalized local resistance to outside administration of units. Problematic reputation of HABC Section 8 in surrounding localities.

Projected Implementation:
1 year

Next Steps:
Based on experience with portability moves, project the number of voucher holders moving to localities in surrounding counties on an annual basis. Based on travel times and the anticipated demand by HABC voucher holders, identify areas suitable for direct administration. Develop briefing paper for Commissioner. Assess Mayoral support for expanding area of direct administration.

Analysis:
This approach to removing bureaucratic barriers to mobility has been implemented successfully in localities across the country. For example, the housing authorities of the City of Las Vegas and those of its surrounding counties, have used direct administration for several years to support participant mobility. This effort and others around the country should be analyzed further to identify how such programs are managed, what problems have arisen, and how those problems have been addressed.