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How Do I Apply to a Public Housing Waiting List?

  1. Obtain the application.
  2. Complete the application.
  3. Submit the application.

Step 1: Obtain the application.

Applications are usually available online, by mail, or in the office. For the Public Housing program, the application may be for a general Public Housing waiting list, or tied to a specific apartment community or scattered site. The application must be obtained per the housing office’s instructions. The only exception to this rule is if an applicant cannot complete an application on their own, and requires reasonable accommodation to complete it because of age, disability, or another reason allowed by the housing office. Besides a reasonable accommodation request, if an applicant cannot complete the application on their own, they may have another person (like a social worker) complete the application on their behalf.

Do not pay for an application. It is against HUD policy for housing authorities to charge for a Section 8 or Public Housing application. If a housing office is charging a fee for a Section 8 or Public Housing application, it is either violating HUD policy, or a scam. You can verify if an application is legitimate by contacting the housing authority named on the application. For more information, read the Affordable Housing and Section 8 Scam Prevention Guide.

Online applications may require the applicant to create a free account through an online portal, and/or have a valid email address. If you do not have an email address, you can create one for free through providers such as Google. It is important to keep online account login information in a safe, easy to access place. If the application is online, and an applicant does not have access to the Internet, they can use a friend or family member's computer/device, or one at a local library. Housing offices may also have a computer lab on premise, but the amount of computers available is sometimes limited, and applicants may have to wait in line. Don’t forget that if you are applying online, housing authorities will usually contact you using the email address you used to apply. If you don’t receive the email or don’t have access when they send a correspondence, you may be removed from the waiting list. Always make sure you are using an email address you get mail at regularly and know you will have access to years from now.

Waiting list openings listed on Affordable Housing Online’s Open Public Housing Waiting Lists page provide specific instructions on how to apply, and other relevant information. If information on how to apply to a housing authority’s waiting list is not provided, contact the housing office for assistance For a review on how to find a waiting list opening, read the "Find an Open Waiting List" section of this guide.

Step 2: Complete the application.

Some applications are only one page, while others have multiple pages. Generally, most applications require the name, date of birth, Social Security Number, and gross income of all household members. However, employment income earned by household members younger than 18 years old is not included. Other information that is usually required includes the applicant’s mailing and/or email address, the applicant’s phone number, housing history, criminal history, and confirmation of preferences (if applicable).

Complete the application per the housing office’s instructions. The office may require the entire application or specific sections to be filled out, or it will be rejected. Some offices will return the application and require you to complete the missing information, but others will simply terminate the application.

Step 3: Submit the application.

The application must be submitted per the housing office’s instructions, or it will be disqualified. For example, if the application can only be submitted online, paper applications will be rejected. Or, if the application can only be submitted in person, mailed applications will be rejected. The only exception to this rule is through a reasonable accommodation request, as noted above.

Applications submitted outside of the required date and time will be disqualified. For example, if an application must be submitted by 5:00 pm, applications submitted at 5:01 pm or later will be rejected. Or, if a mailed application must be postmarked by January 1st, those that are postmarked January 2nd or later will be rejected.