Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Guide

  • The Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly program provides subsidized affordable apartment communities for elderly persons.
  • Program participants pay 30% of their net income for rent.
  • These properties are owned by private management companies or an individual private owner.

Who Qualifies for the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program?

Basic Requirements

  • At least one adult household member must be at least 62 years old.
  • Single persons are eligible, as well as households without children.
    • HUD commonly refers to a household as a “family,” so don’t let that term confuse you. A HUD family can consist of one person, and having children is not required.
  • There is no citizenship requirement to qualify for Section 202 properties (unless the apartment is subject other housing program requirements).

Income Eligibility

  • The household must make less than 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI) in the area to which they are applying, or less than 30% of AMI for some properties built after 2012.
    • This is referred to as the income limit, and the figure rises for each additional member of the household (including children).
    • Employment income earned by household members younger than 18 years old is not included.
  • A household’s income is determined by its net income, which is the amount of money received after subtracting taxes and other expenses.
  • Housing offices have the ability to set their own income limits, so always confirm the specific income qualifications with the office.
    • A housing office often provides the exact income limits in its public notice announcing waiting list opening, or the information may be available on its website.
  • Section 202 apartment pages on Affordable Housing Online provide the standard income limits for the area that the property is located.
    • On an apartment page, scroll down to the "HUD Rental Assistance Income Qualifications" section.

Restrictions and Preferences


Section 202 properties may require tenants to be participants of a local assistance program.


Many waiting lists have preferences. Applicants who qualify for waiting list preferences will receive assistance before applicants who do not. Applicants who do not qualify for preferences will usually have a longer wait to receive assistance. Examples of preferences that may appear on a waiting list include the elderly, persons with disabilities, and local residents. More information about preferences can be found here. It is important to know that preferences are not requirements. Applicants may still apply, even if they do not qualify for any preferences.

Common Disqualifiers

  • Rental History
    • A list of prior landlords may be required, including the address of the property and landlord contact information.
    • The Section 811 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 your landlord, and leave a lease on good terms.
  • Criminal Record
    • Having a criminal record may make it difficult for a person to receive housing, but it does not automatically disqualify them.
    • A person with an arrest record, but no conviction, has a greater chance of qualifying over someone who has been convicted of their offense.
    • Felons face much greater difficulty in qualifying, especially if it was a violence or drug related sentence.
    • Applicants with a history of drug use, alcohol abuse, violence, and other criminal activity that would threaten other residents may have difficulty qualifying.
    • Each housing authority 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.
    • Persons on any state lifetime sex offender registry are ineligible.
    • Recent convictions may deem a household ineligible.
    • Any person who has been evicted from federally assisted housing in the past three years for drug-related criminal activity would be denied, unless special circumstances are met
      • The household member who engaged in the criminal activity must either successfully complete a supervised drug rehabilitation program approved by the housing authority, or be removed from the household. Even then, it is up to the housing authority's discretion to approve these households.
  • False Information
    • 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 housing office.

How Do I Find a Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Apartment?

Search for Section 202 apartments in your area here.

  • The housing program is identified on property pages.
  • Not all areas have Section 202 apartments, so check for properties in nearby cities and counties, as well.

How Do I Apply to a Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Apartment?

  • Applications must be submitted to the apartment's property management company.
  • There must be an open waiting list, or immediate availability to apply.

Obtain the application.

  • After finding a Section 202 apartment in your area, select the green "Contact" button and either:
    • Select "Send a Message"
    • Call the listed phone number.
  • Applications are usually available online, by mail, or in the housing authority's office. The application must be obtained per the housing office’s instructions. For example, if the application must be completed online only, paper applications will not be available.
    • Reasonable Accommodation. The only exception to this rule is if a disabled applicant requires a reasonable accommodation to apply. Besides reasonable accommodations, 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.
    • Online applications.
      • 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.
      • 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. Keep your email account information in a safe, easy to access place.
  • It is against HUD policy to charge a fee for a Section 202 application.

Complete the application.

  • Some Section 202 applications are only one page, while others have multiple pages.
  • The application is usually multiple pages and will ask for:
    • Household information (including name, gender, date of birth, and Social Security Number, income and assets).
    • Previous housing history.
    • Employment and income information.
  • Complete the application per the property manager’s instructions.
    • It may be required for the entire application or specific sections to be filled out, or it will be rejected.
    • Some property managers will return the application and require you to complete the missing information, but others will terminate the application.

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.

What Do I Do After Applying for a Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Apartment?

Wait for your application to be processed.

  • Once your application has been submitted, it usually takes a week or more to process.
    • This depends on the resources available to review applications.
      • Online applications tend to be processed more quickly than paper applications.
    • You can ask the property manager how long it usually takes to process applications.

Confirm your waiting list status.

  • If there is a waiting list, the property manager will confirm your status.
  • If placed on the waiting list, keep a record of it, along with any other relevant information (including housing office, login credentials, a confirmation number, and your position on the waiting list).
  • If there is no waiting list, skip to "Part 6. Move into offered unit."

Estimate your wait time.

  • If you are placed on a waiting list, the wait time for Section 811 apartments can be from many months to years long.
  • Contact the property manager and ask if they can estimate the current length of the waiting list.

Stay in contact with the property manager.

  • Find out how to periodically check your waiting list status with an office.
    • Usually, this will either be done online, by phone, or at the office. Some offices are unable to provide your specific position on the waiting list, but will confirm if you are still on the waiting list.
  • If any of your application information changes (such as contact information, income, and household members), contact the housing office immediately.
    • In the case that the office sends a notice that does not get returned, or if application information is out of date, your application may be terminated from the waiting list. Contact the office you applied through to find out how to officially update application information.
  • Reply immediately to notices sent to you that require a response.
    • Housing offices periodically send notices to all persons on the waiting list, asking if they would like to remain on the waiting list. Applicants who do not respond within the given time frame will be terminated from the waiting list. This is known as purging, and is done to process applicants as efficiently as possible. Follow the specific instructions on the notice, or your application may be terminated.
  • Don’t forget that if you are applying online, housing offices 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.

Attend final in-person eligibility interview.

  • Once there is an available unit, the property management company or landlord will require a final, in-person eligibility interview.
    • They will either require all household members, all adult household members, or only the applicant to be present.
    • The in-person interview is required and you must attend at the scheduled date and time, so if you apply to a different area plan your travel time accordingly.

Move in to offered unit.

After being approved for the Section 202 program, you will be able to move into the unit the property management company or landlord has approved for you.