- On Air Program Guide
- A Blue View
- Brain Talk
- Cellar Notes
- Choral Arts Classics
- The Environment in Focus
- Gil Sandler’s Baltimore Stories
- Humanities Connection
- Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast
- Midday with Dan Rodricks
- The Morning Economic Report
- Radio Kitchen
- The Signal
- Take Five
- Your Maryland
- Public Commentary
- War of 1812 Stories
Do Housing Vouchers Get The Job Done?
You are missing some Flash content that should appear here! Perhaps your browser cannot display it, or maybe it did not initialize correctly.
March 6, 2013
Look through the classifieds for an apartment in most Maryland counties and you’ll see notes like, “All programs are welcome!!” Or “we accept vouchers, section 8 and all government subsidies.” Why? Because often would-be tenants with those vouchers are not welcome and need not apply. A measure making its way through the Maryland General Assembly would ban such discrimination. WYPR’s Mary Rose Madden reports.
Anthony Gaither has fallen on some tough times in the last few years.
I had been a foreman for a lumber company in Dundalk and when the economy went bad, I lost my job. Doing odd ball jobs and helping friends out, I ended up injuring my back. I’m now waiting on three surgeries.
That landed him among the working poor and put he and his wife in dire need of help with the rent. He told a Senate committee last week he thought he had that help in the form of a federal housing voucher.
I got a housing voucher – it was good for sixty days.
But when he and his wife went apartment hunting they were told repeatedly that property owners didn’t accept the vouchers.
After searching and searching, sixty days came up and went and I needed an extension
Now, he’s waiting to get the voucher renewed. And he and his wife are homeless.
I’m living at the Eastern Family Resource Center. My wife and I live in a shelter.
Gaither is among tens of thousands in Maryland every year who think they have found their way out of a housing dilemma with Section 8 or VASH, a veteran’s housing program, only to have doors slammed in their faces by landlords who refuse to accept the vouchers.
Now a bill known as The Home Act would prohibit landlords from discriminating against tenants based on their source of income. It’s the fourth time the measure has been before lawmakers.
This is a bill that is both in our principles and in our interests. And it’s not a novel proposition.
Senator Jamie Raskin, the Montgomery County Democrat sponsoring the bill, said his county as well as Howard and Frederick counties and Frederick City have similar laws. He said even landlords talk about…
How well this program works, how much they appreciate the steady stream of income, once they get through the few bureaucratic hurdles in the beginning, but then they consider it an excellent program.
But those “bureaucratic hurdles” have other property owners and other legislators fuming.
It’s not about discrimination.
That’s Adam Skolnik of the Maryland Multi-Housing Association, which represents landlords.
This is about vouchers, federal and local policies and procedures that make the program cumbersome and expensive to deal with.
Yet Senator James Brochin, a Baltimore County Democrat, suggested the problem may lie with local housing authorities that run the voucher programs. Not all of them are created equal.
We heard wonderful stories about landlords taking Section 8 in Montgomery County and Howard County, how the offices work great, how the inspections go nicely, how it's consistent. And then we heard stories from Baltimore City and Baltimore County about how landlords are owed between 30 and 60,000 dollars.
But Anthony Scott, deputy director for Baltimore City’s Housing Authority, took issue with that.
The only instance where a landlord is not paid on time is if they have some sort of violation and we work quickly with them so that when they get the violation resolved, we pay them their funds right away.
Regardless of the problems in the system, Father Jack Ward argued it is wrong, “simply wrong,” he said to turn away tenants solely because of their source of income.
I urge you on behalf of those good people who are in need and who our government helps – whether it’s by SSI, housing vouchers, and military vouchers - to consider the fact that all of us have a human right to a decent place to live.
Committee members have only a few weeks to decide whether to send the bill to the full Senate.
I’m Mary Rose Madden reporting in Annapolis for 88-1, WYPR.
IN FOCUS TODAY
Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 4:50am
The taxpayers of Baltimore are about to front a developer $107 million in something called tax...
Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 6:35am
WYPR's Fraser Smith and political consultant and columnist Laslo Boyd talk about how Baltimore...
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 4:44am
For Baltimore businesses, this is "Clean Your Files" day, part of the city's campaign to...