BlackHistoryMonth2020

 

The Housing Opportunities Commission is proud to celebrate Black History Month. This national month of recognition allows us to reflect on the richness and depth of achievements made by African Americans throughout history. We aim to honor the strength, resilience and creativity that are central to the culture and experience of Black people in the U.S. As a salute to the pioneering spirit of the African American community, we invite you to read below about notable trailblazers who have made important contributions to housing.

“During this Black History Month, and for many to come, we must never forget the dream—and fight for a new inheritance, one woven not of exclusion but instead of that universal human spirit that calls us each home.” – Dr. Raphael Bostic

 

Leatrice McKissack

McKissack Leatrice wm

 

Leatrice B. McKissack assumed the management of the family-owned 216 unit College Hill Apartments in 1979. In 1983, after her husband suffered a stroke, she became the CEO of both McKissack & McKissack and McKissack Contracting Company. In 1984, McKissack sued the City of Nashville for racial discrimination and merged her firm with Thompson-Miller, becoming McKissack & McKissack & Thompson. In 1987, she was awarded the design contract for the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. That same year, McKissack landed a $50 million contract from Howard University and won the National Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award. In 1991, she formed McKissack Development Corporation to meet the need of affordable housing across the country. In 1993, McKissack won the firm’s first contract with the Tennessee Valley Authority. She recruited her three daughters, all professional engineers, back to the firm and expanded offices to Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago.

Robert C Weaver

Robert C. Weaver

 

Robert C. Weaver was the first African American to be appointed to a U.S. government cabinet-level position. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Weaver to be the first Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). As HUD Secretary, Weaver expanded affordable housing programs. In 1968, he advocated for the passage of the Fair Housing Act – which prohibited discrimination against any person in the terms, conditions or privileges of the sale or rental of a dwelling – or in the provision of services or facilities in connection, because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status or national origin. Prior to his appointment at HUD, Weaver held key positions related to housing in several other administrations, including those of Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. During the Roosevelt administration, he was one of 45 prominent African Americans appointed to positions that helped make up Roosevelt’s “Black Cabinet” – an informal group of African American public policy advisers. Weaver directed federal programs during the administration of the New Deal, at the same time completing his doctorate in economics in 1934 at Harvard University.

 

Senator Edward Brooke

Senator Edward Brooke


Senator Edward Brooke
was the first African American elected to the U.S. Senate by popular vote in 1966. He represented Massachusetts in the Senate from 1967 to 1979. Brooke was an important champion of civil rights and fair housing policies--sponsoring, with Senator Walter Mondale, the 1968 federal Fair Housing Act. In his testimony supporting the Act, Senator Brooke cited his difficulties finding a home after he returned from service in World War II to illustrate the racial prejudice in the American housing market. Senator Brooke remained a leading advocate for affordable housing during his time in the Senate, supporting key provisions of the 1974 Housing and Community Development Act. In 2004, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, and in 2009 he was awarded the highest honor Congress can bestow, the Congressional Gold Medal, for his contributions to civil rights and fair housing.

 

Martin Luther King Jr

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Martin Luther King Jr. - Since the summer of 1966, when King had participated in marches in Chicago calling for open housing in that city, he had been associated with the fight for fair housing. Johnson argued that the bill would be a fitting testament to the man and his legacy, and he wanted it passed prior to King’s funeral in Atlanta.

 

Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall

 

Thurgood Marshall (1st Thurgood Marshall (1908 – 1993) was a civil rights advocate and the nation’s first Black U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Between 1934 and 1961, Marshall traveled as an attorney for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), representing all manner of clients whenever a case involved questions of racial justice. He argued 32 cases before the Supreme Court, prevailing in 29 of them. Marshall argued before the Supreme Court on behalf of the McGhee family in McGhee v. Sipes, the companion case to Shelley v. Kraemer. The landmark decision ruled that state enforcement of racially restrictive covenants violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

The decision in Shelley v. Kraemer initiated the formal undoing of generations of residential segregation, and evidenced a tangible shift in race relations in the country. Furthermore, it laid the groundwork for a legal strategy toward ending segregation that both activists and courts came to employ in the decades following the Second World War.

Beyond Shelley, Thurgood Marshall made some of the most meaningful contributions to our nation’s jurisprudence on civil rights law as both an attorney—arguing the historic Brown v. Board of Education case—and U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

Beverly Lorraine Greene

Beverly Loraine Greene

 

Beverly Loraine Greene was an American architect. She was believed to have been the first African-American female licensed as an architect in the United States. She received her license to practice architecture in 1942 in the state of Illinois. Her first job was with the Chicago Housing Authority where she worked for the first architectural office led by an African American in downtown Chicago.  Despite her credentials, she found it difficult to surmount race barriers to find work in the city. She and other black architects were routinely ignored by the mainstream Chicago press.  In 1945, Greene left Chicago to move to New York City after being hired by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company to help design the Stuyvesant Housing project located in Brooklyn, NY. After only a few days, she quit the project to accept a scholarship for the master's degree program at Columbia University.  She obtained the degree in architecture in 1945 and took a job with the firm of Isadore Rosefield.

Hilyard Robinson

Hilyard Robinson

 

Hilyard Robinson (1899 – 1986) - Robinson’s greatest achievements were for the greater good, whether that meant public housing projects—such as the celebrated Langston Terrace Dwellings in D.C. (airy, open spaces for the working class), educational facilities at Howard University (where he taught for decades), or other government projects, like an airbase for the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the first defense contract given to an African American.

William Warley

Buchanan v. Warley

 

William Warley was a civil rights activist and editor of the Louisville News, which he founded in 1913, using the paper to speak out against segregated street cars and school inequality. In 1917, Warley was also president of the NAACP Louisville, KY Chapter. In 1915, he entered into a contract to purchase property in a predominantly white area of Louisville from Charles H. Buchanan. When a Louisville ordinance blocked the sale to Warley, Buchanan sued arguing the ordinance enforcing state-sponsored racial segregation was unconstitutional. In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that racial zoning laws were a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment--affirming that the state could not deprive any person of their property or limit their ability to  dispose of their property without due process of law. The decision in Buchanan v. Warley was considered a crucial fist step toward ending racial discrimination in housing in the U.S.

 

 

 

 

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

 

In addressing the rapidly changing situation with novel coronavirus (COVID-19), HOC will rely on the guidance and direction of public health authorities to ensure the health and safety of our customers, staff and community.

We ask for your help to comply with the Stay At Home order issued for the State of Maryland beginning March 30, 2020 and effective until further notice.

Browse the drop-down menus below for up-to-date information about COVID-19, HOC’s response, and additional community resources.


Can’t find what you’re looking for?  Reach out to HOC’s Call Center for more information about
processes and resources available to customers:

Phone: (240) 627-9400

Email: help@hocmc.org

 

Office Closures and Where to Reach Us

 

  • To protect the health and safety of customers, staff and community partners, and to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, we have closed public access and walk-in traffic at all HOC office locations – Kensington, East Deer Park, and Silver Spring and Gaithersburg Customer Service Centers – until further notice.

  • Staff continue to be available by phone and email. If you do not know how to reach the party you need to contact, call or email our Call Center for assistance.

    HOC Call Center

    Phone: (240) 627-9400
    Email: help@hocmc.org

  • We continue to accept documents and paperwork via U.S. Mail. However, if you must drop off paperwork, drop boxes are located outside or just inside the front door of all HOC office and customer service center locations.

Common Customer Questions

  •  Housing Path Wait List Applicants 

    • I received a notice that I was selected for an opportunity from the Housing Path wait list but am not sure who I should contact next. 

      • If you are unsure of which program or property you were selected for, please contact the HOC Call Center at (240) 627-9400 or email help@hocmc.org for assistance.

        Please note, if you have been selected for a Project Based Voucher, a packet will be mailed to the address provided on your Housing Path application. If your address has changed, please contact the HOC Call Center to ensure your information is updated.

    • I am on the Housing Path wait list and need assistance updating my application.  

      • Specialists in our Call Center are available to provide technical assistance on Housing Path Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm at (240) 627-9400 or help@hocmc.org.

  • Housing Choice Voucher Customers  

    • How do I submit my annual recertification packet or other forms to HOC? 

      • The best way to ensure receipt of your recertification packet is to complete your forms and send them via email to your assigned Housing Specialist. Alternatively, you can send them via U.S. Mail to the Silver Spring or Gaithersburg Customer Service Centers. If either option is unavailable to you, secure drop boxes are available just inside the front doors of our customer service centers where you may leave forms. Please do not send us originals of your supporting documents. If you do not have contact information for your Housing Specialist, please contact the Call Center for assistance.

    • What should I do if my income decreases because of job loss due to COVID-19? 

      • You should immediately complete and submit an Interim Package. HOC staff are working quickly to process these forms to ensure your household’s portion of rent accurately reflects the change in your income.

    • Will you still make Housing Assistance Payments to my landlord? 

      • Yes, HOC will continue to pay the Housing Assistance Payment portion to your landlord. 

    • Are unit inspections still being scheduled? 

      • HOC has suspended annual U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspections through April 30, 2020. HQS inspections will continue to be conducted only under the following limited circumstances: new move-in, relocation, or emergency inspections.

    • I have received in-person assistance to complete my paperwork in the past. Is that assistance currently available to me? 

      • Out of consideration for the safety of our customers, staff and the community, all home visits have been suspended until further notice. If you require assistance with your paperwork, please contact your Housing Specialist and they will provide remote support to the best of their ability. 

    • Are briefings still occurring? 

      • In-person meetings and briefings have been postponed until further notice. HOC staff are working to schedule remote briefings with customers using digital platforms. If a meeting or briefing will be conducted remotely, you will be provided with advance notice and information on how to participate via phone or web.

  • Scattered Site Customers 

    • How do I contact my Scattered Site Property Manager or Specialist?

      • Although our offices, including the Silver Spring Customer Service Center and East Deer Park office, are closed to the public until further notice, staff remain available via telephone and email: 

      • If you do not know which Scattered Site Team serves your unit, please contact the Call Center for assistance at (240) 627-9400 or help@hocmc.org.

    • What should I do if my income decreases because of job loss due to COVID-19?  

      • If you lost your employment due to shut-downs or layoffs after March 16, 2020, take the following steps immediately:

        1. Apply for unemployment benefits.

        2. Contact your HOC scattered site manager for assistance to set up a plan.

        3. Be prepared to provide the property management team with proof that you have filed for unemployment benefits and that you have been laid off or your employer has temporarily shut down. Specifically, a letter or electronic communication from the employer will be required.

    • I am unable to pay my rent because I lost employment due to COVID-19. How can HOC help me? 

      • Due to the declared state of emergency in Maryland, the governor has issued a prohibition on evictions for any tenant who can demonstrate that failure to pay rent was the result of COVID-19 – for example, because of lost or reduced employment, or needing to care for a school-aged child, or because they are diagnosed with COVID-19.

      • If you are unable to pay your rent, we encourage you to reach out to your scattered site property manager immediately. Our team is ready to work with you to determine the type of relief appropriate for your individual situation.

    • How do I submit my annual recertification packet? 

      • The best way to ensure receipt of your recertification packet is to complete your forms and send them via email to your assigned Housing Specialist. Alternatively, you can send them via U.S. Mail to the Silver Spring or Gaithersburg Customer Service Centers. If either option is unavailable to you, secure drop boxes are available just inside the front doors of our customer service centers where you may leave forms. Please do not send us originals of your supporting documents. If you do not have contact information for your Housing Specialist, please contact the Call Center for assistance.

 

Public Health Information and Resources

Local Health and Medical Assistance

Food Assistance

School and Child Care Information

Utility Information and Assistance

Unemployment Benefits

 

  • Maryland Department of Labor – FAQs About COVID-19 

  • If you are laid off temporarily due to a business shutdown as a result of COVID-19, you may file a claim for unemployment insurance. After you file a claim for unemployment insurance benefits, the Division of Unemployment Insurance will determine whether you qualify to receive unemployment insurance benefits. You can apply for unemployment insurance benefits online or by phone between 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 410-949-0022 (within the Baltimore-metro area and out-of-state) or 800-827-4839 (from within Maryland).

Small Business and Nonprofit Relief