City Housing Authority residents can now apply for recertification, or renew their leases, online or at office kiosks, a new online service offered by the Housing Authority of Baltimore City’s Housing Choice Voucher Program. (Brittany Brown / The Baltimore Sun)
Baltimore families living in public housing can now renew their leases through an online portal unveiled Monday by the city’s Housing Authority.
The new technology presented in the form of kiosks inside the House Choice Voucher Program office are meant to save residents time when reapplying for public housing certification, which participants in the program must do annually.
The MyHousing portal allows residents to complete the application individually, rather than setting an appointment with office staff.
Housing Authority Executive Director Janet Abrahams said the appointments would usually take one to two hours to complete, but with the MyHousing portal, residents could complete the same process within 15 to 20 minutes.
“I saw the [recertification] process as being very cumbersome,” Abrahams said. “Some folks had to take time off of work to come in. They didn’t have all of their information. People were getting frustrated because they have to go back and forth. That made me take a look and see how can we make this better.”
The portal also offers residents access to federal government websites, such as the IRS, Housing and Urban Development and the Social Security Administration, which makes it easier for residents to gather their required documents for the recertification process.
Sedrick Gilliam, a housing authority resident since November 2018, was one of the first residents to use the MyHousing portal Monday and described the service as “expedient.”
“The [office staff] was on hand, and they were very advantageous in showing us what we needed to do,” Gilliam said. “It’s so convenient for you. I would say it’s a godsend.”
Abrahams said the MyHousing portal has been in the works since she was hired in July 2017, and the Housing Authority of Baltimore City is now working to reduce paper processes throughout the agency, she said.
“I think our staff will have more time to make sure things are being processed accurately and timely,” Abrahams said. “Overall, it’s all about the residents. We want to provide better service to the residents.”
According to the Housing Authority of Baltimore City’s website, the agency serves nearly 19,000 homes through its Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs.