Baltimore Housing Mobility

What is the target goal?

The Baltimore Housing Mobility Program is a specialized, regional housing voucher program that aims to address inequalities between poor, minority neighborhoods and wealthy, majority white neighborhoods. The Baltimore Housing Mobility Program helps families in public housing obtain Mobility Housing Choice Vouchers that enable them to relocate to private market housing in predominantly suburban neighborhoods. In providing low income families with more housing choices, the program also connects these families to greater educational and economic opportunities. In short, the primary goal of the program is to bring more benefits to more public housing families while simultaneously reducing concentrations of poverty in Baltimore.

One of the primary means the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program uses to provide benefits to families is through a wide range of counseling opportunities. The program provides participants with financial education, motivational coaches, tours of employment, educational, and health related opportunities in their new neighborhood, post-move counselling, and secondary move counselling. In addition, the program reaches out to landlords and educates them on the benefits and opportunities that arise from renting to a housing voucher tenant.

Who are the partners?

The Metropolitan Baltimore Quadel (MBQ), a subsidiary of the Quadel Consulting Corporation, is the primary organization that administers the Mobility Housing Choice Voucher. The MBQ administers and runs the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program under the oversight of the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Maryland ACLU. In addition, the MBQ partners with the Baltimore Regional Housing Campaign, a coalition of local and national civil rights and housing policy organizations, to ensure equality throughout the voucher process.

How is the effort financed?

The Baltimore Housing Mobility Program is financed through appropriated funds by the United States Congress. These funds are then distributed through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and, finally, administered by local housing agencies.

Other Details

The Baltimore Housing Mobility Program has strict rules and guidelines that contribute to its wide spread success. First, neighborhoods selected as new locations for families in the program must have a population with less than 10% of residential incomes below the federal poverty line, less than 30% minority residents, and less than 5% of residents living in federally subsidized housing. Neighborhoods meeting these qualifications, coined "opportunity neighborhoods," are mostly spread throughout the six counties in and around Baltimore City. After a family moves to an opportunity neighborhood through the voucher system, they must remain in their original unit for a minimum of one year and in a qualified neighborhood for at least two years. Only after this multi-year period, and participation in provided financial and housing-related counseling, are families able to use their voucher to move elsewhere.

Currently, over 2,000 families have moved into opportunity neighborhoods through the program. Of these families, 62% stayed in their original unit after the required time and two thirds of the families stayed in their original neighborhood for multiple years. Those families that chose to move after the required time typically chose neighborhoods with less poverty and less segregation then their pre-voucher neighborhoods.

When was the program launched?

The Baltimore Housing Mobility Program began in 2003 in response to the inequalities of Baltimore's public housing system. The voucher program continually works to provide viable and equitable programs and solutions for families in public housing.

Resources

Byrnes, Mark (2014, March 28). How to Sell Poor, Inner-City Families on a Life in the Suburbs, City Lab. http://www.citylab.com/housing/2014/03/how-sell-poor-inner-city-families-life-suburbs/8680/

DeLuca, Stefanie and Jessi Stafford, Finding Home: Voices of the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program, The Century Foundation, http://apps.tcf.org/finding-home

Engdahl, Lora (2009, October), New Homes, New Neighborhoods, New Schools: A progress Report on the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program, Baltimore Regional Housing Campaign. http://www.prrac.org/pdf/BaltimoreMobilityReport.pdf

Metropolitan Baltimore Quadel (2015), The Special Mobility Housing Choice Voucher Program, http://www.mbquadel.com/AboutUs.aspx

City Solutions and Applied Research
National League of Cities, www.nlc.org
Uploaded February 2015, JAB