Affordable Housing Online is monitoring the federal government's response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. As of March 13, 2020, Public Housing Agencies across the nation are closing their doors to the public. Most offices are still running and will communicate by phone, email, or mail. Some offices have drop boxes installed outside, so documents can still be hand-delivered. Visit the housing authority's website for the latest on its current operations, if one is available. If there is no information online, contact the housing authority directly. Due to a high volume of calls and modified office hours in most areas, expect a long wait time (days or weeks) for a response. To find your local PHA's contact info, browse by state here.

An extensive list of coronavirus resources for low-income households can be found here.

What Happens After Applying for a Section 811 Apartment?

  1. Wait for the property manager to process applications.
  2. Confirm your waiting list status.
  3. Estimate your wait time.
  4. Stay in contact with the housing office.
  5. Attend final in-person eligibility interview.
  6. Move into offered unit.

Step 1: Wait for the property manager to process applications.

Once your application has been submitted, it generally takes between a couple of weeks and a couple of months for management companies or landlords to process applications. This depends on the resources available to review applications. Usually, online applications are processed more quickly than paper applications. You may ask the housing office how long it usually takes to process applications.

Step 2: Confirm your waiting list status.

If there is a waiting list, the housing office will usually confirm your status by mail, or by allowing you to log in to an online portal.

If placed on the waiting list, keep a record of the office you applied through, along with any other relevant information (including login credentials, a confirmation number, or your position on the waiting list). Without this documentation, it is easy to lose track of waiting lists you have applied to.

Step 3: Estimate your wait time.

Once you are on a waiting list, your wait time varies greatly depending on the office you applied through. Because of the high demand for affordable housing, and the waiting list may be months or years long. Generally, large metropolitan areas have long waiting lists, while areas with smaller populations have shorter waiting lists.

Contact the housing office you applied through to find out if a representative can estimate the current length of the waiting list. If the office cannot make an estimate, a representative may be able to confirm the date from which they are currently pulling applications. For example, if you applied in January 2016, and the office is pulling applicants who applied in January 2013, you likely still have a long wait for assistance.

Step 4: Stay in contact with the housing office.

Find out how to periodically check your waiting list status with a property management company or landlord. 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 or household members), contact the property management company or landlord immediately. In the case that they send 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 property management company or landlord you applied to, and ask how to officially update application information.

Reply immediately to notices sent to you that require a response. The property management company or landlord periodically sends 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.

Step 5: 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.

Step 6: Move into offered unit.

After being approved for the Section 811 program, you will be able to move into the unit the housing provider has approved for you.