Public Housing

Public Housing



Public housing was established to provide decent and safe rental housing for eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. Public housing comes in all sizes and types, from scattered single family houses to high rise apartments for elderly families. There are approximately 1.2 million households living in public housing units, managed by some 3,300 HAs. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers Federal aid to local housing agencies (HAs) that manage the housing for low-income residents at rents they can afford. HUD furnishes technical and professional assistance in planning, developing and managing these developments.



Who is Eligible?

Public housing is limited to low-income families and individuals. An HA determines your eligibility based on: 1) annual gross income; 2) whether you qualify as elderly, a person with a disability, or as a family; and 3) U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status. If you are eligible, the HA will check your references to make sure you and your family will be good tenants. HAs will deny admission to any applicant whose habits and practices may be expected to have a detrimental effect on other tenants or on the project’s environment.

HAs use income limits developed by HUD. HUD sets the lower income limits at 80% and very low income limits at 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area in which you choose to live. Income limits vary from area to area so you may be eligible at one HA but not at another. The HA serving your community can provide you with the income levels for your area and family size, or you can also find the income limits here on the internet.



How Do I Apply?

If you are interested in applying for public housing, contact your local HA. If you have trouble contacting the HA, contact the local HUD Field Office.

How Does the Application Process Work?

The application must be written. Either you or the HA representative will fill it out. An HA usually needs to collect the following information to determine eligibility:

  • Names of all persons who would be living in the unit, their sex, date of birth, and relationship to the family head;
  • Your present address and telephone number;
  • Family characteristics (e.g., veteran) or circumstances (e.g., living in substandard housing) that might qualify the family for tenant selection preferences;
  • Names and addresses of your current and previous landlords for information about your family’s suitability as a tenant;
  • An estimate of your family’s anticipated income for the next twelve months and the sources of that income;
  • The names and addresses of employers, banks, and any other information the HA would need to verify your income and deductions, and to verify the family composition; and
  • The PHA also may visit you in your home to interview you and your family members to see how you manage the upkeep of you current home.

After obtaining this information, the HA representative should describe the public housing program and its requirements, and answer any questions you might have.

Will I Need to Produce Any Documentation?

Yes, the HA representative will request whatever documentation is needed (e.g., birth certificates, tax returns) to verify the information given on your application. The PHA will also rely on direct verification from your employer, etc. You will be asked to sign a form to authorize release of pertinent information to the PHA.

When Will I Be Notified?

An HA has to provide written notification. If the HA determines that you are eligible, your name will be put on a waiting list, unless the HA is able to assist you immediately. Once your name is reached on the waiting list, the HA will contact you. If it is determined that you are ineligible, the HA must say why and, if you wish, you can request an informal hearing.

Will I Have To Sign a Lease?

If you are offered a house or apartment and accept it, you will have to sign a lease with the HA. You may have to give the HA a security deposit. You and the HA representative should go over the lease together. This will give you a better understanding of your responsibilities as a tenant and the HA’s responsibilities as a landlord.

Are There Any Selection Preferences?

Sometimes there are. Giving preference to specific groups of families enables an HA to direct their limited housing resources to the families with the greatest housing needs. Since the demand for housing assistance often exceeds the limited resources available to HUD and the local HAs, long waiting periods are common. In fact, an HA may close its waiting list when there are more families on the list than can be assisted in the near future.

Each HA has the discretion to establish preferences to reflect needs in its own community. These preferences will be included in the HAs written policy manual. You should ask what preferences they honor so you will know whether you qualify for a preference.

How is Rent Determined?

Your rent, which is referred to as the Total Tenant Payment (TTP) in this program, would be based on your family’s anticipated gross annual income less deductions, if any. HUD regulations allow HAs to exclude from annual income the following allowances: $480 for each dependent; $400 for any elderly family, or a person with a disability; and some medical deductions for families headed by an elderly person or a person with disabilities. Based on your application, the HA representative will determine if any of the allowable deductions should be subtracted from your annual income. Annual income is the anticipated total income from all sources received from the family head and spouse, and each additional member of the family 18 years of age or older.

The formula used in determining the TTP is the highest of the following, rounded to the nearest dollar:

  • 30 percent of the monthly adjusted income. (Monthly Adjusted Income is annual income less deductions allowed by the regulations);
  • 10 percent of monthly income;
  • welfare rent, if applicable; or
  • a $25 minimum rent or higher amount (up to $50) set by an HA.

What is the Role of the HA?

An HA is responsible for the management and operation of its local public housing program. They may also operate other types of housing programs.

On-going functions: (a) Assure compliance with leases. The lease must be signed by both parties; (b) Set other charges (e.g., security deposit, excess utility consumption, and damages to unit); (c) Perform periodic reexaminations of the family’s income at least once every 12 months; (d) Transfer families from one unit to another, in order to correct over/under crowding, repair or renovate a dwelling, or because of a resident’s request to be transferred; (e) Terminate leases when necessary; and (f) maintain the development in a decent, safe, and sanitary condition.
Sometimes HAs provide other services, that might include such things as: home ownership opportunities for qualified families; employment training opportunities, and other special training and employment programs for residents; and support programs for the elderly.
How Long Can I Stay in Public Housing?

In general, you may stay in public housing as long as you comply with the lease.

If at reexamination your family’s income is sufficient to obtain housing on the private market, the HA may determine whether your family should stay in public housing.

32 thoughts on “Public Housing

  1. My name is Stephanie Strickland I recently filled out for section eight when the list was open and you were accepting applications online only. I recently had a child he is one now and I was wondering if there was any possibility of me finding out where I stand on the waiting list. True when I filled out the application I did receive a receipt number but I no longer have possession of this number. My living situation right now is really hectic right now I work but I need assistance with housing for me and my son.

    1. Stephanie,

      I’m sorry but we are not affiliated with any Housing Authority therefore, we do not have access to that kind of information.

      My suggestion for you is to call the agency you applied through and speak with a counselor there.
      They should be able to help you find out where you are on the list, as well as update your information if needed.

      I hope this helps,

    2. Hi my name is William I’m currently on disability mentally and physically disabled I’m in need of housing I’m living on the street and I really need help and I’m waiting to get approved from SSI and I have a lawyer and it’s been 4 years and I’m really having a hard time can you please help me with this matter

      1. William,
        I’m so sorry you are having such a hard time.
        We are not affiliated with any Housing Authority or Government Agency.
        Have you tried contacting your Local Housing Authority?
        They have many different programs as well as the Section 8 program. They may be able to help you apply for emergency housing if it’s available in your area.
        Please call them they are there to help you.


      1. Aedra,

        You need to find the Housing Authority nearest your location.

        You can do this by going to our home page and clicking on your state.

        Once you have found your location, you can check and see if their wait list is open, and if so application/contact information should be there.

        Hope this helps,


  2. I went to Redevelopment and Housing Authority in my area in Harrisonburg ,VA to fill an application for public housing and they told me its on line.I went on line and it said the application has to be written .,that s confused me.I need help please and thank you

    1. Kimberly,

      You need to contact the Housing Authority in your area.
      They are there to help you.
      If you are not certain who to contact, please go to our home page where you will find a map.
      Click on your state, then find the agency nearest your location.
      This will tell you if their wait list is open, how to apply and also give you their contact information.
      We are not affiliated with any program so this will be the next step for you if you feel like you qualify.

      I hope this helps,

  3. I need a home desperately im homeless got 60 job applications out there I can sure use a place to dwell please consider me

    1. Andrea,
      We are not affiliated with any Housing Authority nor do we handle the Section 8 Vouchers.
      Have you tried to contact your local Housing Authority?
      They will be able to help you through the application process and give you options for housing.
      Some Housing Authorities will also be able to help you with emergency housing until you can get back on your feet.

      I wish you the best of luck,

    1. Hi Latesha,
      You will need to contact your local Housing Authority where you applied the first time.
      They may be able to help you update your information, or start a new application.


    1. Chelsie,

      If you go to our home page and click on your state the link will take you to a list of Housing Authorities in your area.
      Once you click on your agency, we give you the information such as if their wait list is open (if they are accepting applications), application information as well as contact information.
      If you are having trouble some Housing Authorities will allow you to make an appointment and have someone there help you complete the application.
      Take care,

  4. I’m looking for a two bedroom house for my daughter and myself I’ve put in some applications I like to know when you’re going to start calling the wait list or what more I need to do

    1. Claudia,

      We are not affiliated with any Housing Authority so I don’t have access to that kind of information.
      You will need to contact the agency you applied through and confirm you are on a wait list.
      They may be able to give you that information or a time frame.

      Good luck to you,

  5. My name is Susanne Cassity and I was wondering when is the next open enrollment for section 8 is and when was it opened last time?

    1. Susanne,

      Each Housing Authority has it’s own wait list and time frame of how long that wait is as well as when they accept new applications.

      Please go to our Home page and click on your state.

      This will take you to a list of agencies in your area. After you click on that link you will find wait list status, application information and contact information.

      I hope this helps,

  6. I’m trying to apply online for section 8 and HUD housing and I can’t find where I go on here to do this so could you please help me figure this out. Thanks

    1. Katie,

      If you go to our Home page where you find the map and click on your state this will take you to a list of Housing Authorities in your area.
      Click on the nearest one to where you want assistance from.
      This will lead you to their Wait List status, application information as well as their contact information.

      I hope this helps,

  7. Hi my name my name is Asha I check my status of my application via phone, I just wanted to know were I’m at far as what number am I. I tried to check on line but I couldn’t access it with the id number or password can you please provide me my information. Thanks

    1. Asha,

      We are not affiliated with any program or agency. You will need to contact the Housing Authority you applied through and see if they can get you your log in information.


    1. Rachel,

      We are not affiliated with any Housing Authority.
      If you are having problem completing your application I would suggest you contact the agency you are trying to apply through.
      They may be able to help you or let you know why you are having issues.

      Good Luck!

      1. Wilene,

        We are not affiliated with any housing program. Our site is to give people the information they need to apply.

        You will need to contact the Housing Authority you applied through and see if they can give you that information.

        You can also check on their website as some will post updates there.


  8. If I am trying to get help from section 8 do I have to go to the HA and fill out an application. Where I live now they do take section 8 I was put on the wait list in Aug. 2015

    1. Lillie,

      If you are already on the wait list, you may want to contact the agency you applied through to confirm you are still on the list.

      Many Housing Authorities have the option of applying online if their wait list is open.


  9. Hi my name is Vanessa I have a voucher I’m looking on go but that list hasn’t been updated. And my voucher is for 2 bedrooms and is about to expire on the 28 of May..

    1. Vanessa,

      You will need to contact the Housing Authority that issued you the voucher.

      We don’t have contacts or information regarding landlords that accept them.


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