Citing Overwhelming Demand, Housing Authority of Baltimore City will Stop Accepting New Public Housing Applications.

Efforts to streamline waiting list reduced applications substantially but waiting time for housing still five-to-seven years.


(BALTIMORE – November 12, 2019) – Citing the overwhelming demand for low-income housing in Baltimore and an average waiting time of up to seven years, the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) has announced that it will stop taking applications for public housing as of December 20, 2019.

Even after HABC’s actions this year to streamline its waiting list, which reduced total applications from 27,000 to 14,000, the wait time is still too long to accept new applications.

“This is a decision we wish we didn’t have to make but by continuing to accept applications we would be performing a disservice and creating a false sense of hope that we can accommodate applicants in the near term,” said HABC President and CEO Janet Abrahams. “The applicants at the top of our waiting list right now have been waiting on average between five and seven years. We work very hard to serve as many households as possible but simply don’t have the resources to meet the tremendous need.”

A shortage of public housing and sustainable funding has been an ongoing challenge for public housing agencies. 

“Unfortunately, our nation has been under-investing in public housing for many years,” said Abrahams. “It is not a national priority. The result is a severe shortage. That is what we are contending with as we carry out our mission.”

“As the leading provider of affordable housing in Baltimore, we understand deeply that housing is an immediate need,” said Norman Young, HABC’s vice president of admissions and leasing. “We see this need first-hand every day when someone submits their application to our program. Unfortunately, we can only house an applicant when a current resident moves out and that unit becomes vacant. And that vacant apartment isn’t always in a section of the city the applicant prefers.”


Those on the waiting list and still in need of public housing are asked to notify HABC when their address or contact information changes. It is often difficult or impossible to locate an applicant when their name rises to the top of the list. The same is true for HABC’s Housing Choice Voucher Program, which is also closed to new applications.

“The number would be even higher if we hadn’t conducted an extensive campaign earlier this year to contact everyone on the list to verify they were still interested in public housing,” said Abrahams. “Because of the lengthy wait for housing an applicant’s circumstances often change significantly by the time they move up to the top of the list.”

HABC continues to invest in developing new properties and in financially supporting like-minded developers in creating more affordable housing. One vehicle HABC uses is a commitment of voucher funding for a 15-year period to ensure that these transactions by partners have sufficient funding to make the deal viable. HABC does not provide temporary shelter. The agency, which operates independently from the city, manages only permanent homes in which individuals and families pay about 30 percent of their income in rent.


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