Application Process for Housing
The purpose of the application process is to collect all the information about a family that HCH will need to determine eligibility for housing assistance in Howard County, and to place the family on the waiting list. The application collects demographic (age, sex, race, etc) and identity (e.g., name, social security number, etc) information about all household members and has questions about the households current living conditions.

After HCH receives a completed application the form is date and time stamped and added to the waiting list based on the following ranking criteria:

  • local preference, and
  • application date & time.

Preferences – Standard Application Ranking

A preference is a description that gives Howard County residents applying for housing assistance advanced ranking on the waiting list. The preference ranking order is as follows:

  • An applicant claiming Preferences 1 &2.
  • An applicant claiming Preference 1.
  • An applicant claiming Preference 2.

The preference descriptions are as follows:

Preference #1

  • A family with a primary wage earner employed by Howard County or who has been offered employment in Howard County.

Preference #2

  • A family that does not receive any housing or rental assistance.
  • A family that does have housing assistance, but meets one of the following criteria:
o living in substandard or overcrowded conditions;
o paying more than 50% of the household income toward rent and utilities; or
o a participant in good standing for 12 months in a self-sufficiency type program.

Priority Status - Exception to Standard Application Ranking

A priority is a situation, recognized and validated by HCH, which elevates an applicant’s status to the top of the waiting list for service. This process decreases the amount of time that an applicant has to wait for service, but does not always guarantee “overnight service”. The ability to provide housing assistance is still based upon the availability of a unit or voucher funding. The situations considered a priority by HCH are as follows:

  • Involuntarily displacement for one of the following reasons:
o Disaster - fire, flood or other natural incident with no private replacement housing available.
o Eminent domain – any non-code enforcement action (e.g. unit condemnation due to owner negligence) taken by any federal, state, or local governmental body in conjunction with a public improvement or development.
o Official action – a legal or official order by another expert (e.g. physician) requiring that a unit be made safe or adequate and no alternate housing is available.
o Change of ownership or purpose – the sale, demolition or discontinuance of a previously affordable residential property resulting in the loss of low-to-moderate income housing.
o Domestic Violence – a situation of verifiable actual or threatened abuse or violence.
  • Participation in a Witness Assistance or Protection Program.
  • Homelessness as verified and referred by a local government body.

HCH does not pre-qualify applicants. This means that a family can claim a preference on an application; however, proof that the family qualifies for the preference will not be verified until the eligibility interview is scheduled. If the family does not qualify for the preference at the time of the eligibility interview, their housing need may be determined as non-critical and the application will be returned to the waiting list.

To acknowledge the receipt of the application, HCH will send the family a receipt card. This card lists the application date & time and is the family’s only proof of having applied for housing assistance in Howard County. This card should also be referred to when checking on the status of an application.

NOTE: Please take your time filling out the application. Applications missing information will not be accepted and will not be added to the waiting list. Instead, an incomplete application is returned to the applicant (if possible) with the section(s) of the application that need to be completed highlighted.

Otherwise, HCH will maintain all applications until they reach the top of the waiting list. During the time that an application is on the waiting list the applicant has 2 major responsibilities. Those responsibilities are:

1. Respond to all HCH correspondence (e.g. telephone calls, letters, postcards, etc).
2.Report all changes to the information reported on the application (e.g. contact information, changes in household members, etc).

HCH uses the information reported on the application to contact all applicants. If this information is outdated or invalid, and HCH cannot successfully contact the family, the application will be removed from the active waiting list.