Everything You Need to Know About Section 8 Housing in Baltimore

To qualify for Section 8 housing vouchers in Baltimore, you’ll need to make less than 50% of the median income.
Written by Heather Bernhard
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Families and individuals whose income is 50% or less of Baltimore’s median household income are eligible for Section 8 housing vouchers, which reduce housing costs through direct subsidy payments to landlords. 
Section 8, or the Housing Choice Voucher Program, assists very low-income families, disabled individuals, and the elderly with finding safe and affordable housing. If you have a Section 8 voucher, you will not pay more than 40% of your adjusted monthly income in rent—the government pays the rest. 
Unfortunately, it can be challenging to navigate the Section 8 program. From filling out an application to finding an available home, it can feel like you’re never getting ahead.
This simple guide from car and
renters insurance
super app
will tell you everything you need to know about Section 8 housing in
. We’ll go over it all, including the basics of the Section 8 program, applying for a voucher, finding a place to live, and maintaining your tenancy. 

What is Section 8 housing?

Section 8 is a federal housing program that provides low-income, disabled, and older people with affordable housing. It does this through the Housing Choice Voucher Program. 
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) oversees the program, but local public housing agencies (PHA) process the vouchers themselves. 
Here’s how the program works:  
  • Those accepted in the program can receive housing choice vouchers or project-based vouchers
  • Housing choice vouchers allow tenants to live in any type of housing that meets the program's qualifications, including health and safety inspections. Tenants may move at will and continue assistance at another eligible property. 
  • Project-based vouchers are attached to specific properties. Because the voucher is tied to the unit, a family who moves from that property can’t maintain assistance.
  • Family size and composition determine the specific number of bedrooms and the type of voucher you’ll receive. 
  • Recipients can expect to pay 30% to 40% of their monthly income in rent, and the PHA will pay the remaining 70% directly to the landlord.

Section 8 obligations

Through the Section 8 program, the local housing authority, tenants, and landlords have specific responsibilities and obligations they must meet. Here’s what each party is responsible for:
Housing authority
Provide accurate and complete documentation
Screen tenants
Determine applicants’ eligibility and issue vouchers
Find suitable housing and complete all required paperwork before a voucher expires
Comply with fair housing laws
Approve units, rental amounts, and leases
Pay rent promptly and attend all required appointments
Complete all necessary repairs and maintenance
Inspect subsidized units annually
Notify the housing authority of any changes in income or family composition
Provide housing authority with documentation of any notices to tenants, including eviction notices
Ensure that both tenants and landlords comply with program rules
Key Takeaway Housing choice vouchers allow tenants to live in an eligible unit, while project-based vouchers are tied to specific properties. 

What are the requirements for Section 8 housing in Baltimore?

Housing Authority of Baltimore City
(HABC) manages Section 8 housing in Baltimore. To qualify for housing assistance, you need to meet Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requirements. 
To qualify, you must be 18 years of age or older, a full-time
resident,and a U.S. citizen or documented immigrant. Next, you must be able to pass a criminal background check (with no drug violations or sexual offenses). And lastly, you will need to provide proof of income, banking information, and references. 
The determining factor in receiving Section 8 housing is whether an applicant meets income limit qualifications. Income must not exceed 50% of the median income in your area. For example, a one-person household cannot earn more than $56,200 annually, while the low-income limit for a family of four is $68,650.
HUD considers the following when determining income eligibility:
  • Employment income
  • Business income
  • Interest from accounts or investments
  • Welfare or social assistance
  • Social security benefits
  • Alimony and child support
Everyone in the household who is over 18 and can work will be considered in the income limit. 
According to the Maryland Department of
Housing and Community Development
, the median household income in Baltimore is $104,000. However, exact income limits depend on your family size, and the HABC is legally required to give 75% of its vouchers to applicants whose income is 30% or less of the median income
This table below breaks down qualifying income based on family size in Baltimore:
Family size
Very low income (50%)
Extremely low income (30%)

How to apply for Section 8 housing in Baltimore

To apply for Section 8 housing in
, you can go to the Applicant Portal and complete an online
waiting list application
. When you reach the top of the waiting list, you will receive a notice by mail. The message will give you a date and time to meet with the HABC to determine your eligibility and the amount of assistance you can receive. 
The amount of time you are on the waiting list is determined by the number of applicants ranked higher than your application and funding availability
Be prepared to share your Social Security number, citizenship, or immigration status, plus detailed income and financial information at your interview. 
If you are determined eligible, you will receive a Housing Choice Program rental subsidy. You may use this in your current home (if it meets requirements) or move to other rental housing. 

How to find Section 8 housing in Baltimore

Once you’ve received your voucher, you’ll have 60 days to find housing. You may
request a 30-day extension
; however, no voucher may exceed 120 days
You must receive priority housing if:
  • You are homeless
  • You have been involuntarily displaced from your previous residence
  • Someone in your household is elderly or disabled
An individual or family that HABC has issued a Housing Choice Voucher can use that voucher anywhere in the United States as long as there is a PHA that administers the Housing Choice Voucher Program. However, if you live outside of Baltimore City and you receive a voucher issued by the city, you must use that voucher within city limits for the first year. 
You can use
to find a place or check out
this map
created by HUD.
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The most Section 8 will pay varies based on the applicant’s income. Generally, tenants pay 30%-40% of their monthly income in rent, and the government covers the rest.
In Baltimore County, the most a Section 8 voucher would cover for a 2-bedroom apartment is between $1,256 and $1,535.
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