Affordable Housing Agency changes application process
By Moses A. Wilds, Jr. Landlord-Tenant Mediator
The Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) is establishing a new Applicant Wait List Portal System to determine eligibility for participation in the HOC affordable housing programs. Applicants will complete one electronic application which will be used to determine their eligibility for all housing programs. Historically, HOC has had a separate wait list for each of its housing programs (i.e. Public Housing, Housing Choice Voucher — formerly known as Section 8 — Project-based Voucher and Opportunity Housing). HOC will transition from its current lottery system to a new Applicant Wait List Portal System. The list opens for seniors and disabled people in late July and to the public in August. There will be kiosks at public libraries and HOC service centers to service those who need assistance.
Features of the new HOC Applicant Wait List Portal System:
- Applicants will complete one application, which can be used to determine their eligibility for all housing programs.
- Paper Applications will no longer be accepted. Applicants can only sign up via the agency website. The new wait list will be all electronic, allowing applicants to sign up and manage their applications online.
- The Wait List will be remain open indefinitely. Previously, HOC wait lists would close following a one- to two-week application period.
- Selection from the wait list will no longer be by lottery. Applicants will be matched with opportunities in the order they are received, based on household size, income and available openings across all HOC rental programs.
- Priority consideration will be given to applicants who are elderly and disabled. HOC has started to purge the old list of previous wait listed applicants. HOC has already attempted to contact all previous applicants on the wait list, but out of the many on the list, very few were reachable. If applicants have not yet received a phone call or information by mail they are encouraged to contact HOC right away to let them know that they are still interested in being waitlisted, and to update their contact information. Applicants who were on the wait list previously and who are current in communication with HOC will have priority over new applicants.
HOC will utilize an all-electronic application, with a new website dedicated solely for wait list applicants. Persons with internet access may apply from any connected device.
For persons who do not have access to the internet, kiosks will be available in Montgomery County Public Libraries and other selected sites. Application stations and trained personnel to assist applicants will be available inside all HOC offices. The office closest to Takoma Park is located at: 8421 Georgia Ave, 3rd Floor, Silver Spring, Md. 20910 (accessible via Metro Bus: S2, S4 and Ride-On Bus 28, 70, 71, 79).
Although applicants’ information will be archived in the electronic system for three years, failure to re-certify annually will result in an applicant’s name being removed from the waiting list.
There is no cost to apply for the HOC wait list. All applicants must be at least 18 years of age and there are no income restrictions for applicants. Montgomery County residency is not an application requirement but those who live, work or have notice of work in the county will have preference.
Applicants will be matched to an appropriate housing program based on the information provided in the on-line application such as household size, income, preferences and program availability.
If an applicant meets any qualification for assistance he/she will be contacted by HOC when they are selected. It is very important that applicants maintain accurate on-line contact information on their applications. For further information contact HOC at firstname.lastname@example.org or 240-627-9400 or visit the HOC office nearest you.
This article appeared in the July 2015 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.