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Public Housing

What is 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.  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.  Local Housing Authorities are governed by local community boards and follow federal, state and local housing laws.

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 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.  Housing Authorities will run background check for adults in the household.

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 country 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 your can also find the income limits here on the internet.

How do I apply?

Please see Application Information.

How does the application process work?

The application must be written.  Either you or the HA representative will fill it out - can be in person or online, but will require all adults to sign at some point.  An HA usually needs to collect the following information to determine potential eligibility.

1) Names of all persons who would be living the unit, their sex, date of birth, and relationship to the family head; PHA may require documentation of legal dependents if not by birth to the head of the household.  PHA policy may determine if non-spousal adults will be allowed to be listed on application and lease agreement.

2) Your present address and telephone number;

3) Family characteristics (e.g. veteran) or circumstances (e.g. living in substandard housing) that might qualify the family for tenant selection preferences;

4) Names and addresses of your current and previous landlords for information about your family's suitability as a tenant;

5) An estimate of your family's anticipated income for the next twelve months and the sources of that income;

6) 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 

7) The PHA also may visit you in your home to interview you and your family members to see how you manage the upkeep of your 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.

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.  All income from all household members must be reported on your application and verified by the PHA.  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:

1) 30% of the monthly adjusted income. (Monthly Adjusted Income is annual income less deductions allowed by the regulations);

2) 10% of monthly income; 3) welfare rent if applicable; or

4) a $25 minimum rent or higher amount (up to $50) set by an HA.

Popular Links

Owner's Guide

A Good Place to Live

Live-in Aide

Veteran's Affairs Supportive Housing

Equal Housing Opportunity