Baltimore, MD
United States

Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore

Synthesizing data and engaging key stakeholders to assess the neighborhood-based implications of using small-area fair market rents for housing choice vouchers in Baltimore.

In the wake of the 2008 housing crisis, neighborhoods in Baltimore became increasingly segregated, particularly with the growing concentration of households with a housing choice voucher in neighborhoods where homeowners moved to the rental market during the Great Recession. Households without housing assistance have also faced affordability and displacement issues, as the use of vouchers in low-rent neighborhoods has tended to artificially inflate rents.

One of the reasons for the concentration of housing choice voucher users in Baltimore is that the city uses the metro-area fair market rent to set rent prices. This project will explore if adopting rents set at the ZIP code or census tract level could reduce rental inflation, keeping housing affordable for all residents and giving households with vouchers more choices about where to live. The project will be led by the Maryland Center on Economic Policy (MDCEP) and the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance-Jacob France Institute (BNIA-JFI).

MDCEP and BNIA-JFI will gather data on the current distribution of households with vouchers across neighborhoods and use of small-area fair market rents (SAFMR). They will use these data to create a racial equity analysis of current voucher usage and uptake in Baltimore compared with uptake and usage of SAFMRs from other jurisdictions. The project will also include interviews with community leaders, housing authority staff, landlords and property managers, and focus groups with households that currently receive a voucher to understand the implications of using SAFMRs.

Staff will develop briefs and blog posts for advocates and media, as well as present findings to the Housing Authority of Baltimore City and their board members. MDCEP and BNIA-JFI hope that these findings will provide advocates with the evidence needed to make the case for implementing SAFMRs, leading to more affordable housing in the city and taking a significant step toward desegregation of housing available to people who use housing choice vouchers in Baltimore.