Housing Authority of Baltimore City Helps 11 Clients Become First-Time Homeowners

Families in the Housing Choice Voucher Program were able to work toward self-sufficiency and move from rental assistance to mortgage assistance


(BALTIMORE – December 9, 2019) – Eleven Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) clients have switched from renting to buying their homes. The transition this year was made possible by the agency’s Housing Choice Voucher Program, which allows qualified families to convert their rental assistance to mortgage assistance. 

“These first-time homebuyers worked hard to put themselves in a position to purchase homes in 2019,” said HABC CEO Janet Abrahams. “Their achievement speaks to their determination to build a better life for themselves and their families. Our homeownership program is designed encourage the kind of effort they’ve made. We applaud their accomplishment.”

Anyone who has been in the Housing Choice program for more than a year and who has never owned a home is eligible to make the switch from rental assistance to mortgage assistance if they have good credit, can afford a down payment and qualify for a mortgage. Those who do meet the criteria must go through homeownership counseling with one of HABC’s certified partners to ensure they fully understand the obligations that come with owning a home. 

“My husband and I decided that as our boys got older and we felt we were moving in a position to be stable to look into the program,” said Tearsa Thomas, who with husband Tumar Clark have been rental clients with HABC since 2004.  “It took time to work on our credit and to make sure we were in good standing with our landlord and then we decided to go for it.”

Their new three-bedroom, 1.5 bathroom home in Northeast Baltimore has a carport in the back of the house, completely remodeled kitchen and bathroom and a finished attic. They have three children, 16, 15 and 12.

“Our two oldest sons go to school on different sides of the city so we wanted a central location,” Thomas said. “The neighborhood we looked in seemed to be the best fit for them and also for my husband to get back and forth from work.”

Mr. Clark is a school bus driver for Baltimore County Public Schools. Ms. Thomas is very active at her children’s schools and is in college herself working on completing her degree. Closing on their home is set for early January. 

HABC administers more than 13,000 vouchers. Individuals and families pay 30 percent of their adjusted household income in rent. The housing authority pays the remainder. When a family becomes more self-sufficient and their income increases the amount of housing assistance they need goes down. The homeownership program uses the same formula. The family pays 30 percent of their income to the mortgage.

Yolanda McRoy, a pharmacy technician and single parent with a 20-year-old daughter attending Coppin State University, has been an HABC Housing Choice client since 2004. McRoy closed on their new home in West Baltimore in mid-November.

“I’m familiar with the neighborhood. I lived in West Baltimore my entire life,” she said. “The homeownership counseling gave me a lot of information and prepared me for owning a home. The fact that everything is yours is the most important thing. This is the place I plan to live in for a long time and then leave to my daughter and her kids when she has them.”

The average sale price of the homes purchased in the program by these 11 families in 2019 is $148,000. The properties were located in neighborhoods across the city.

“A lot of people apply but not everybody is ready when they learn all that owning a home entails,” said Tracey Oliver-Keyser, HABC’s Senior VP of Resident Services. “On top of credit, ample savings and homeownership counseling, they have a certain window to look at houses, pre-qualify for a loan and then go to closing. This is a process that takes place over several months, and these 11 households are glad they made the transition.”


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