After applying for assistance under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), your local Public Housing Agency (PHA) may add your name to a waiting list. For instance, your name may be added to a waiting list if you apply for public housing or Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8). If you meet certain conditions, however, your name may move to the top of the list and you may qualify for immediate assistance.
Due to the great demand for assistance, these waiting lists are long and may even close before your name reaches the top. However, you may visit your local PHA’s website for up-to-date information on the status of these lists. Once the list reopens, your local PHA will make note of it on its website.
Unlike public housing and Section 8, there is no waiting list for the HUD’s privately owned subsidized housing program. To apply for this type of housing, search for a participating apartment online here and contact the apartment’s management office to begin the application process.
To learn more about the approval process for public housing and the HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Program, review the sections below.
Will I receive a notification if the HUD approves my application for public housing?
After applying for assistance under the HUD’s public housing program, your local PHA must provide you with a written letter as notification of your eligibility. If you are not qualified for assistance, the PHA will tell you why. Then, you may ask for an informal hearing if you do not agree with the PHA’s decision.
If you are eligible for housing assistance, however, your PHA will add your name to a waiting list—unless you qualify for immediate assistance. If you do not qualify for immediate assistance, your PHA will contact you directly once your name reaches the top of the waiting list.
What happens after I apply for a Housing Choice Voucher?
The approval process for obtaining a Housing Choice Voucher is comparable to that of the HUD’s public housing program. After applying for a Section 8 voucher, for instance, your local PHA will add your name to a waiting list if you are eligible for assistance. Once your name reaches the top of the Section 8 waiting list, your local PHA will notify you and provide you with a housing voucher.
Like the HUD’s public housing program, you may qualify for immediate assistance if you meet certain conditions. If you do not meet these conditions, however, you may ask your local PHA to add your name to the public housing waiting list as well.
5 Factors That Affect Your Place on HUD Waiting Lists
If you meet any of the following conditions, you may receive local preference for HUD housing assistance:
- You have a great and immediate need for public housing
- You are homeless or residing in substandard housing during the time at which you apply for assistance
- You are currently paying more than 50 percent of your household income on the cost of rent
- You have been involuntarily displaced from your former residence
- Many other families on the waiting list do not qualify for immediate placement
Depending on the community in which you live, your local PHA may honor other preferences as well. Review your PHA’s policy manual for specific information about these local preferences.
What happens once my name reaches the top of the Section 8 waiting list?
Once your name reaches the top of the HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher waiting list, your PHA will contact you to explain the next steps in the process. Typically, your local PHA will issue the voucher once your name reaches the top of the list. Then, you can use the voucher to pay for all or a portion of your rent at any of the following:
- Single-family homes
As part of the Housing Choice Voucher program, you can search for available rentals on your own to find an option that best fits your budget, needs and lifestyle. To search for housing units that participate in this program, use the HUD’s online Resource Locator Tool.
What happens if I qualify for public housing?
If you qualify for public housing, you cannot search for your own rental properties like you can through the HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Program. However, a variety of state-owned rentals are available to you as part of this program—including single-family homes, townhomes and apartments. Once your local PHA offers you a home, you may choose to accept or reject it.
If you choose to accept a rental unit under the HUD’s public housing program, you may need to:
- Sign a lease.
- Submit a security deposit.
- Undergo periodic income examinations.
Next, your PHA will look at a variety of factors to calculate the amount you must pay in rent (known as the Total Tenant Payment or TTP). Typically, your household’s gross annual income will determine the amount of your TTP.
If my income stays the same, can I live in public housing for as long as I need?
If you comply with the terms of your lease, you can typically reside in public housing for as long as you wish. If you have questions about the terms of your lease, however, it’s important to speak with your PHA to help you better understand your role as a tenant. You may also click here to learn more about the tenant rights and laws in the state where you live.
Moreover, your local PHA will evaluate your household income each year to ensure that your eligibility for public housing has not changed. If your household income increases at any point, you may no longer qualify for HUD public housing.
To ask a question or file a complaint while residing in public housing, contact your local Housing Counseling Agency for assistance—especially if you’re the victim of discrimination. If you’d like to explore the possibility of purchasing a home, contact a PHA near you to learn more about the HUD’s homeownership programs for public housing residents.