How Do I Know If I'm Eligible for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program?

Step 1: Confirm that you meet the basic qualifications.

Single persons are eligible, as well as households with or without children. Affordable housing programs commonly refer to a household as a “family,” so don’t let that term confuse you. A “family” consists of one or more persons, and having children is not required to be considered a “family.” Unlike Section 8 and Public Housing, there is technically no citizenship requirement to qualify for LIHTC properties (unless the property is subject other programs with these restrictions like Section 8).

Step 2: Calculate your household’s income.

Depending on the community you apply to, qualified applicants generally must earn less than 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI) at the time they move in. This is referred to as the income limit, and the amount increases for each additional member of the household (including children).

Many LIHTC properties have tiered income limits where some units may be reserved for families earning 60% or less of the AMI and other units are set aside only for families earning 50%, 40% or even 30% of the AMI. This rent tiering varies from one LIHTC property to the next. Be sure to ask any LIHTC apartment project you are interested in applying to what income tiers it serves and what the corresponding monthly rent is for your tier. The income limit in a specific area can be found by using Affordable Housing Online’s search bar at the top of this page, and scrolling down to the chart in the “Understanding Affordable Housing - Low Income Housing Tax Credits” section. The income limits for this program are in the chart titled “Low Income Housing Tax Credit Income Limits.” A household’s gross annual income is used to determine eligibility for LIHTC occupancy, which is the total amount of money earned by all adult members of the household. Unlike in other federal housing programs like Section 8 and Public Housing, no income adjustments (medical expenses, child care, etc.) are used to determine income eligibility.

Step 3: Determine if there are any restrictions and/or preferences.

A LIHTC community may have specific units, or the entire property reserved for elderly or disabled tenants. There also may be restrictions allowing only a specific demographic such as farm workers or homeless persons.

Step 4: Be aware of common factors that may disqualify an application.

Applicants will likely have to submit to a credit report. An applicant doesn’t necessarily need good credit to qualify, but a poor credit report may make you ineligible. Credit decisions are made on a property by property basis and depending on the geographic area and financial standards of each property owner, your credit requirements can be very different for each apartment property you apply to.

The household’s rental history is also taken into consideration. A list of prior landlords may be required, including the address of the property and landlord contact information. In addition, the LIHTC property manager may contact previous landlords for a reference. If you have a poor track record as a tenant at other properties, you could be at risk of being rejected as a qualifying tenant. Always try to keep a good relationship with every landlord and never leave a lease on bad terms.

A criminal background check will often be required, as well. Having a criminal record may make it difficult for a person to be approved for housing, but it does not automatically disqualify you. Generally, a person with an arrest record, but no conviction, has a greater chance of qualifying over someone who has been convicted of a crime. Each community operates differently, but may allow persons with a criminal record to qualify based on the length of time since the offense occurred, and the severity of the crime. In a 2015 Notice, HUD issued specific guidance to both housing authorities and private landlords reminding them 1) "one-strike" policies are not required, 2) arrests are not evidence of criminal activity, and 3) affordable housing tenants still have the right to due process. Though LIHTC properties are not technically considered “federally assisted” and not expressly included in the Federal prohibition of occupancy by registered sex offenders, many state LIHTC programs or individual owner occupancy policies may prohibit occupancy by registered sex offenders.

Be truthful with the information you write on an application. Putting false information on the application may not only disqualify you, but also get you in legal trouble. If you are unsure about what to write down in a section of the application, contact the property.