Who Qualifies for the Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities Program?

  1. Basic Requirements
  2. Income Eligibility
  3. Restrictions and Preferences
  4. Common Disqualifiers

Step 1: Basic Requirements

  • At least one adult household member must have a disability, which includes physical disability, developmental disability and chronic mental illness.
  • 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 811 properties (unless the apartment is subject other housing program requirements).

Step 2: 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 811 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.

Step 3: Restrictions and Preferences


Section 811 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.

Step 4: 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.