Public Housing Guide

Real estate agent with house model and keys

Public housing was created to provide quality rental homes for low-income families, the elderly, and people living with disabilities. There are various types of Public Housing options such as single-family houses, apartments buildings and high-rise condos to name a few. HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) manages Public Housing inventory and participants through the many Public Housing Authorities (PHA) offices which are located throughout the states.  

Who Qualifies For Public Housing?

Public housing is limited to low-income families and individuals. The PHA or HA (Housing Authority) qualifies applicants as eligible based on 3 factors: 

1) (AGI) annual gross income. This is the total income of all members of the household over 18. 

2) Type of Household, individual, multi-member family, Elderly or disabled. Families with one member 62 years or older are considered Elderly or Senior. 

3) U.S. citizen or legal immigrant.

Once you have applied to your local PHA or HA (Housing Authority) expect to be placed on a waitlist. When the applicant has reached the top of the waitlist, the HA will reach out and confirm references, income and background. Many HA’s will conduct an in-person interview. 

Public Housing Income Limits are similar to Section 8, and separated into the following three categories: 

  • Extremely Low-Income – A household’s Adjusted Gross income (AGI) that is 30% of the county or metropolitan area’s median income. A majority of Public Housing resources will be provided to this category.
  • Very Low-Income – A household’s AGI that is 50 percent of the county or metropolitan area’s median income level.
  • Low-Income – AGI that are 80 % of the county or metropolitan area median income level.

HUD sets the income limits and the adjusted median income limits geographically. Income limits will differ from states, counties and metropolitan areas. What a recipient pays in rent will be determined by where their AGI falls in relation to the Income Limits of the area.  

The processes of Public Housing and Section 8 are similar. The key differences are Public Housing refers to dedicated units that recipients can chose from. Section 8 provides housing choice vouchers that allow recipients to find and choose homes that qualify for the program. 

How To Apply For Public Housing?

To apply for Public Housing in your area contact your local Housing Authority. For a database of HA offices in you area Click Here and fill out an application online.

Can I Apply For Section 8 and Public Housing At The Same Time?

The answer is yes! You can apply for as many waitlists as you want. If you feel you meet the criteria for more than one housing assistant program there is no harm to applying for multiple waitlists. However, if you apply for the same waitlist multiple times at the same time, this may be problematic and your application could be terminated.

If you are in need of assistance and believe you qualify for the program then applying for multiple waitlists will likely increase your chances of getting the rental assistance you need.

Will I Need To Have Any Documentation?

Yes! Like Section 8 you will need to verify your citizenship, Date of birth, income, employment, financial situation etc. Your local Housing Authority will require documentation to verify your eligibility.

You can find more information on what documentation to provide at here is your online resource to simplify the qualification process for various assistance programs at a local, state and federal level.