Frequently Asked Affordable Housing Questions

Section 8 FAQs

How long are affordable housing waiting lists?

Because of the high demand of affordable housing, and comparatively low supply, it is not rare to be on a waiting list for several years.

Generally, large metropolitan areas have long waiting lists, while lower populated areas have shorter waiting lists. However, an apartment community's waiting list is usually shorter than a Section 8 or Public Housing waiting list. There may also be an instance in which there is no waiting list, but those opportunities are rare, and applicants must still go through an approval process.

Contact the housing authority or apartment community you applied through to find out its policy on how to find out your status on its waiting list. The method of how to find out your status varies by each office. Please keep in mind that some offices are not able to provide your specific position on the waiting list, but can confirm if you are currently on the waiting list.

If the office cannot state your specific position on the waiting list, the representative may be able to confirm the date they are currently pulling applications from. 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.

If you applied through a housing authority, and the office cannot provide information on your current wait time, ask how you can access its Annual Plan. This document, which is updated yearly, may have information about the current number of households on the waiting list, and the office's annual turnover rate. You can use simple math to estimate the length of the waiting list based on these numbers. For example, if there are 1,000 households on the waiting list, and the annual turnover rate is 200 households, calculate (1,000 ÷ 200), which is 5. It would take that office about five years to serve all households on that waiting list. Unfortunately, not all housing authorities provide both pieces of information on their Annual Plan.

If there are any further questions about the specific waiting list you would like to apply to, please contact the appropriate housing authority or apartment community.

You can use the search bar at the top of this page to search for housing authority and apartment community contact information.


How do I find a unit that accepts a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher?

As long as certain requirements are met, you can use your Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher at apartments and houses owned by a private landlord that accepts vouchers, Low Income Housing Tax Credit properties, Section 515 Rural Rental Housing properties, and eligible units owned by a housing authority that administers assistance under an Annual Contributions Contract.

The specific requirements can get complicated, so we have explained everything in an easy to read guide here.

Besides using our website to find a unit that accepts your voucher, the housing authority that manages your voucher may have a list of local landlords who accept vouchers. Contact the housing authority office, and ask if a list is available. You can use the search bar on the top of our website to find housing authority contact information.


Can I take my Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher to a different area? (Portability)

Yes, you can take your Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher to a different area once specific conditions are met. This process is referred to as "portability." You can read more about HUD's portability policy here.


What is Section 8?

Section 8 housing is a federally funded program aimed to assist low-income families in America pay for rent. There are two different branches of the Section 8 program: the Housing Choice Voucher program (called "tenant-based" assistance), which allows you to choose the housing location; and "project-based" assistance, which requires you to live at a specific property.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (commonly referred to as HUD) provides funding for Section 8, along with several other affordable housing programs such as Public Housing. Thousands of housing authorities located around the country receive the funding from HUD, and administer Section 8 vouchers (among other programs) within its local jurisdiction.

Qualified families or individuals accepted into the Housing Choice Voucher program receive a voucher that pays a portion of their monthly rent. The tenant is responsible for paying 30 percent of their monthly adjusted income for rent. This amount can be adjusted through deductions including child care expenses and medical expenses, among others. The voucher covers the difference.

Please click here for more information about Section 8


Can I be evicted if my HUD apartment is sold?

If a Project Based Section 8 apartment community is sold and the new owner decides not to renew the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract with HUD, they can permanently relocate residents. However, under the federal Uniform Relocation Act (URA), Project-Based Section 8 tenants receive certain protections including relocation advisory services, extended relocation notice requirements, moving expense reimbursement and substantial payments to cover the increased costs of replacement housing.

According to Relocation Assistance To Tenants Displaced From Their Homes (HUD-1042-CPD), HUD booklet for displaced tenants, if a tenant is notified they will be displaced, "it is important that you do not move before you learn what you must do to receive the relocation payments and other assistance to which you are entitled."

The benefits displaced tenants are entitled to are:

  • Extended move out notice. You are not required to move without at least 90 days advance written notice. The written notice must identify at least one comparable rental property available to you and the earliest date by which you must move.
  • Relocation advisory services. Counseling services that include referrals to comparable replacement housing, inspection of replacement housing to ensure it meets established standards, claim for preparation assistance, and other counseling to minimize the cost and impact of the move.
  • Moving Expense Payment. Payment of actual moving expense and/or a fixed moving expense and dislocation allowance.
  • Allowance for Replacement Housing. To provide a renter with the financial resources needed to find replacement housing, the tenant is entitled to relocation assistance payments to buy or rent replacement housing. The URA entitles displaced renters to rental assistance for a 42 month period following displacement. The amount of monthly assistance is determined by subtracting 30% of a low-income tenant's monthly income from the monthly rent payment for the replacement housing. For example, if a displaced Section 8 tenant earns $500 per month and replacement housing costs $800 per month, for 42 months, the tenant would receive $650 per month for 42 months, $800 (the new rent) minus $150 (30% of monthly income).

To receive these benefits, a displaced tenant must file a claim.

Relocation regulations and the benefits tenants are entitled to are complicated. Many purchasers of Project-Based Section 8 properties are either inexperienced with the program and its requirements or choose to ignore them. Often, a new owner tries to just evict everyone upon assuming ownership without following the Uniform Relocation Act, which is unlawful.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are being displaced, it is very important that you do not move until you identify what your rights are.

HUD has a great overview of the URA and even provides Regional Relocation Specialists (directory) that can assist tenants in danger of relocation.


What is my status on the waiting list?

The best way to check your status on a waiting list is to contact the housing authority or apartment community you applied to. The method of how to find out your status varies by each office. Some offices are not able to provide your specific position on the waiting list, but can confirm if you are currently on the waiting list.

If the office cannot state your specific position on the waiting list, the representative may be able to confirm the date they are currently pulling applications from. 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.

If you applied through a housing authority, and the office cannot provide information on your current wait time, ask how you can access its Annual Plan. This document, which is updated yearly, may have information about the current number of households on the waiting list, and the office's annual turnover rate. You can use simple math to estimate the length of the waiting list based on these numbers. For example, if there are 1,000 households on the waiting list, and the annual turnover rate is 200 households, calculate (1,000 ÷ 200), which is 5. It would take that office about five years to serve all households on that waiting list. Unfortunately, not all housing authorities provide both pieces of information on their Annual Plan.

It is important to update the housing authority or apartment community you applied to immediately with any changes to your application (income, household members, contact information, etc...). Not doing so may result in the termination of your application. When checking your waiting list status, it does not hurt to make sure your other information is up to date as well.


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Waiting Lists FAQs

What has to be included in my household income?


Income Inclusions [CFR 24, Subtitle A, Part 5, Subpart F §5.609(b)]:

  1. The full amount, before any payroll deductions, of wages and salaries, overtime pay, commissions, fees, tips and bonuses, and other compensation for personal services;
  2. The net income from the operation of a business or profession. Expenditures for business expansion or amortization of capital indebtedness shall not be used as deductions in determining net income. An allowance for depreciation of assets used in a business or profession may be deducted, based on straight line depreciation, as provided in Internal Revenue Service regulations. Any withdrawal of cash or assets from the operation of a business or profession will be included in income, except to the extent the withdrawal is reimbursement of cash or assets invested in the operation by the family;
  3. Interest, dividends, and other net income of any kind from real or personal property. Expenditures for amortization of capital indebtedness shall not be used as deductions in determining net income. An allowance for depreciation is permitted only as authorized in paragraph (b)(2) of this section. Any withdrawal of cash or assets from an investment will be included in income, except to the extent the withdrawal is reimbursement of cash or assets invested by the family. Where the family has net family assets in excess of $5,000, annual income shall include the greater of the actual income derived from all net family assets or a percentage of the value of such assets based on the current passbook savings rate, as determined by HUD;
  4. The full amount of periodic amounts received from Social Security, annuities, insurance policies, retirement funds, pensions, disability or death benefits, and other similar types of periodic receipts, including a lump-sum amount or prospective monthly amounts for the delayed start of a periodic amount (except as provided in paragraph (c)(14) of this section);
  5. Payments in lieu of earnings, such as unemployment and disability compensation, worker's compensation and severance pay (except as provided in paragraph (c)(3) of this section);
  6. Welfare assistance payments. (i) Welfare assistance payments made under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program are included in annual income only to the extent such payments:
    (A) Qualify as assistance under the TANF program definition at 45 CFR 260.31; and;
    (B) Are not otherwise excluded under paragraph (c) of this section.
    (ii) If the welfare assistance payment includes an amount specifically designated for shelter and utilities that is subject to adjustment by the welfare assistance agency in accordance with the actual cost of shelter and utilities, the amount of welfare assistance income to be included as income shall consist of:
    (A) The amount of the allowance or grant exclusive of the amount specifically designated for shelter or utilities; plus
    (B) The maximum amount that the welfare assistance agency could in fact allow the family for shelter and utilities. If the family's welfare assistance is ratably reduced from the standard of need by applying a percentage, the amount calculated under this paragraph shall be the amount resulting from one application of the percentage.
  7. Periodic and determinable allowances, such as alimony and child support payments, and regular contributions or gifts received from organizations or from persons not residing in the dwelling;
  8. All regular pay, special pay and allowances of a member of the Armed Forces (except as provided in paragraph (c)(7) of this section).
  9. For section 8 programs only and as provided in 24 CFR 5.612, any financial assistance, in excess of amounts received for tuition and any other required fees and charges, that an individual receives under the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001 et seq.), from private sources, or from an institution of higher education (as defined under the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1002)), shall be considered income to that individual, except that financial assistance described in this paragraph is not considered annual income for persons over the age of 23 with dependent children. For purposes of this paragraph, "financial assistance" does not include loan proceeds for the purpose of determining income.
Income Exclusions [CFR 24, Subtitle A, Part 5, Subpart F §5.609(c)]:

  1. Income from employment of children (including foster children) under the age of 18 years;
  2. Payments received for the care of foster children or foster adults (usually persons with disabilities, unrelated to the tenant family, who are unable to live alone);
  3. Lump-sum additions to family assets, such as inheritances, insurance payments (including payments under health and accident insurance and worker's compensation), capital gains and settlement for personal or property losses (except as provided in paragraph (b)(5) of this section);
  4. Amounts received by the family that are specifically for, or in reimbursement of, the cost of medical expenses for any family member;
  5. Income of a live-in aide, as defined in §5.403;
  6. Subject to paragraph (b)(9) of this section, the full amount of student financial assistance paid directly to the student or to the educational institution;
  7. The special pay to a family member serving in the Armed Forces who is exposed to hostile fire;
  8. (i) Amounts received under training programs funded by HUD;
    (ii) Amounts received by a person with a disability that are disregarded for a limited time for purposes of Supplemental Security Income eligibility and benefits because they are set aside for use under a Plan to Attain Self-Sufficiency (PASS);
    (iii) Amounts received by a participant in other publicly assisted programs which are specifically for or in reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses incurred (special equipment, clothing, transportation, child care, etc.) and which are made solely to allow participation in a specific program;
    (iv) Amounts received under a resident service stipend. A resident service stipend is a modest amount (not to exceed $200 per month) received by a resident for performing a service for the PHA or owner, on a part-time basis, that enhances the quality of life in the development. Such services may include, but are not limited to, fire patrol, hall monitoring, lawn maintenance, resident initiatives coordination, and serving as a member of the PHA's governing board. No resident may receive more than one such stipend during the same period of time;
    (v) Incremental earnings and benefits resulting to any family member from participation in qualifying State or local employment training programs (including training programs not affiliated with a local government) and training of a family member as resident management staff. Amounts excluded by this provision must be received under employment training programs with clearly defined goals and objectives, and are excluded only for the period during which the family member participates in the employment training program;
  9. Temporary, nonrecurring or sporadic income (including gifts);
  10. Reparation payments paid by a foreign government pursuant to claims filed under the laws of that government by persons who were persecuted during the Nazi era;
  11. Earnings in excess of $480 for each full-time student 18 years old or older (excluding the head of household and spouse);
  12. Adoption assistance payments in excess of $480 per adopted child;
  13. [Reserved]
  14. Deferred periodic amounts from supplemental security income and Social Security benefits that are received in a lump sum amount or in prospective monthly amounts, or any deferred Department of Veterans Affairs disability benefits that are received in a lump sum amount or in prospective monthly amounts.
  15. Amounts received by the family in the form of refunds or rebates under State or local law for property taxes paid on the dwelling unit;
  16. Amounts paid by a State agency to a family with a member who has a developmental disability and is living at home to offset the cost of services and equipment needed to keep the developmentally disabled family member at home; or
  17. Amounts specifically excluded by any other Federal statute from consideration as income for purposes of determining eligibility or benefits under a category of assistance programs that includes assistance under any program to which the exclusions set forth in 24 CFR 5.609(c) apply. A notice will be published in the Federal Register and distributed to PHAs and housing owners identifying the benefits that qualify for this exclusion. Updates will be published and distributed when necessary.
For more information about income inclusions and exclusions, contact the housing office you apply through. You can search our website for housing authority and apartment community contact information here.


Why is the wait so long?

Because of the high demand of affordable housing, and comparatively low supply, it is not rare to be on a waiting list for several years. For example, in some areas, 20,000+ people may apply through an office that is only placing 1,000 of those applicants on the waiting list. Generally, large metropolitan areas have long waiting lists, while lower populated areas have shorter waiting lists. There are housing authorities and apartment communities with very short waiting lists, or no waiting lists at all, but these opportunities are extremely rare.


Also, the Section 8 and Public Housing programs tend to have the longest waiting lists. Affordable housing properties that offer other programs, such as the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit programs, likely have shorter waiting lists than Section 8 and Public Housing. You can search our website for your area of interest, and scroll down to the list of affordable housing communities that may have other programs available.

Please contact the housing authority or apartment community for more information.


Since Section 8 vouchers are so difficult to get, is there a place to find other housing programs that set rent based on your income?

Yes, there are likely other programs available other than Section 8 and Public Housing. Housing authorities often provide additional housing programs. You can also search our website for your area of interest, and scroll down to the list of affordable housing communities that may have other programs available. Please contact the housing authority or apartment community for more information.


The housing office I applied through told me I didn't qualify to receive assistance, and I don't know why. What could have made me ineligible?

Any housing office that provides a HUD program is legally required to explain to you why you did not qualify. Due to the high demand of affordable housing, and comparatively low supply, it is possible that you did qualify, but were not among the applicants that were placed on the waiting list. For example, 20,000+ people may apply to a waiting list opening that is placing 1,000 applicants on that waiting list.


Contact the housing office you applied through to find out why you did not qualify. You can search our website for housing authority and apartment community contact information.


Who qualifies for affordable housing assistance?

The most important qualifier is income. For most housing programs, the general qualification requires that the household makes less than 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI) of that area to qualify.

To find an estimate of the AMI for your area of interest, you can search our website for your area and scroll down to our chart of income limits.

There are other significant qualifiers such as housing and criminal history. Past evictions and owing money to a housing authority may make it difficult to qualify. Having a criminal record may make it difficult for a person to receive housing, but it does not automatically disqualify them. Generally, offices are more lenient to persons with an arrest record, but persons with a conviction may find greater difficulty in qualifying. Furthermore, felons face much greater difficulty in qualifying, especially if it was a violence or drug related sentence. Each housing office 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. Sex offenders will not qualify for affordable housing.

The Section 8 and Public Housing programs do not issue a credit check, but Section 8 landlords likely will, as well as individual affordable housing properties.

Even if you are placed on a waiting list, it is not a guarantee that you qualify for housing. Many housing offices do not determine eligibility until your name reaches the top of the waiting list.

Contact the housing office you apply through for more information about the qualification process. You can search our website for housing authority and apartment community contact information.


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Eligibility FAQs

How do I apply for affordable housing assistance?

Eligibility

Depending on the housing program you apply to, applications for an open waiting list will be available from the area's housing authority, or by an affordable apartment community's management company (or landlord).

Housing authorities manage the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher and Public Housing programs, but not all offer both programs. The housing authority may also participate in other housing programs, and offer affordable apartment communities as well.

In addition to programs available by housing authorities, property management companies and private landlords operate affordable apartment communities.

How to get an application varies by each housing office. Applications are usually available online, in the office, or by calling to request one via mail.

The housing authority pages on Affordable Housing Online provide information on how to apply to a specific waiting list. You can find more information on how to apply to open Section 8 waiting lists here, and open Public Housing waiting lists here. If information on how to apply is not available, contact the housing authority for assistance.

Affordable apartment community pages on Affordable Housing online have buttons that allows you to email or call the property, and find out how to apply. If contact information is not available, visit the property in person. You can start your search for an affordable apartment here.


What does an income limit mean?

The income limit for an affordable housing program is the maximum amount of income a household can earn to qualify to receive assistance.

The specific figure is based on the city or county's Area Median Income (AMI), and is adjusted depending on how many persons live in the household (including children). Income qualification is generally separated into three main tiers: Low Income (80% AMI), Very Low Income (50% AMI), and Extremely Low Income (30% AMI). However, the number of tiers used and percentage of AMI used for qualification varies by each housing program. The required income limits for a waiting list may be found online on a public notice for a waiting list opening, or the housing authority or apartment community's website. If income limit information cannot be found, contact the appropriate housing authority or apartment community. Scroll up to the search bar on the top of this page to find contact information.

A household's income is calculated by its gross income, which is the total income received before making subtractions for taxes and other deductions. When applying for any HUD affordable housing program, there are certain means of income that do not have to be reported. Required income inclusions and exclusions for HUD programs can be found here.


How old do you have to be to apply?

Generally, applicants must be at least 18 years old to apply.

However, there are waiting list openings and affordable housing communities that are specifically for elderly, or near elderly applicants. In that instance, the head of household or co-head must meet the minimum age requirement (usually 62+ for elderly, 50-61 for near elderly).


Where can I apply?

You can apply to open affordable housing rental assistance waiting lists nationwide.

To receive rental assistance in your area of interest, you must apply to an open waiting list managed by a Public Housing Authority that serves that area, or an affordable property's management company or landlord.

Some waiting lists have restrictions on who can apply. For example, the waiting list may only be open for seniors, disabled persons, or other targeted applicants.

If the waiting list you are interested in is closed, you cannot apply at that time, and there are no circumstances that would allow you to apply until it reopens (which may take months or years, depending on the area and housing program).

You may apply to open waiting lists in other areas, but you would have to move to that area to receive rental assistance. There are some things to consider about applying to an area where you don't currently live:

  • Be prepared to travel before moving in. Applicants must attend a final in-person interview to receive assistance. And once you have been notified that you may begin to receive rental assistance, you must move to the area or property.
  • Many waiting lists have preferences. If applying to waiting lists in other areas, keep an eye out for a local residency preference. This means that persons who live or work within the area would receive assistance before persons who do not qualify for the preference. Qualifying for other preferences may balance out a local residency preference, but local residency preferences tend to be heavily weighed.
  • After receiving a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher in another area, it is possible to transfer your voucher after one year of tenancy, but only after certain conditions are met (called porting). Read more about HCV portability here.

Once you know where you want to apply, begin your search for housing here:


Do I qualify with a criminal record?

Having a criminal record may make it difficult for a person to receive housing, but it does not automatically disqualify them.

Read more about qualifying for affordable housing with a criminal record in our Housing for Persons with Criminal Records Guide here.


What should my credit score be in order to receive housing?

Your credit score will not have an affect on your eligibility to receive Section 8 or Public Housing assistance. However, once you receive a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, prospective landlords will likely require a credit score as part of your background check. Also, other affordable housing programs, such as Low-Income Housing Tax Credit properties, will likely have a credit score as a part of the approval process.

To obtain a credit report, you are able to get a credit report by multiple credit report agencies, but there are three agencies that are the largest and most widely-used. These agencies are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Your credit score will likely differ between agencies, but your score should be similar between these three.

Some factors of what determines your credit score include bill payment history and amount of money owed. For further information about what determines your credit score, visit this FTC page.

Everyone is eligible for a free credit report once a year by each of the three agencies noted above. Do not fall for scams and other unethical companies that make you pay for your credit score if you have not requested one that year.

Credit scores are generally between a scale of 350-850. According to sources online, including myFico.com, the national average credit score is 690, and any score in the range of mid-600s and higher is considered "good credit."

Important note: "Good credit" does not determine eligibility to live in a unit. It is up to the landlord's or property manager's discretion to reject or accept your credit score. There is no set qualifier.

There are ways to build your credit score if your reported number is low. Information on how to improve your credit score can be found on this FTC page.


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Landlords and Tenants FAQs

Can I smoke in my apartment?

Landlords and Tenants Public Housing

Under HUD regulations, smoking cigarettes, cigars or pipes will not be allowed in apartments, public areas or within 25 feet of Public Housing buildings. At this time the smoking ban does not apply to e-cigarettes, nor to HUD properties that participate in housing programs other than Public Housing.

You may or may not be able to smoke in your affordable housing unit; depending on the policy of the housing authority, property management company, or landlord that manages your unit.

  • Public Housing residents may not smoke on premises as of July 31, 2018. More information about that ruling can be found here.
  • If you are a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher tenant, that policy is set by your landlord. The smoking policy should be identified on your lease.
  • For other housing programs, some housing agencies let its residents smoke, while others do not. The smoking policy should be identified on your lease for these programs, as well.

If a housing agency does have a no-smoking policy, there may be designated smoking areas outside. Also, it's important to note that no-smoking policies do not mean that residents who smoke will be evicted. But they will be not be allowed to smoke on premise.

Contact the housing authority, property management company, or landlord that manages your unit to confirm the smoking policy. You can use the search bar at the top of this page to search for housing authority and apartment community contact information.


How many bedrooms am I eligible for?

Generally, up to two people are placed in a bedroom, and adults have separate bedrooms than children.

Allocating bedrooms for children can get complicated, as each housing authority's policy differs. If two children are of the same sex, they normally will be given a room together. However, if two children are of opposite sex, they will likely only be granted separate bedrooms if they have reached a specific age (usually more than 5 years old). If the children are under the specified age limit, they must live in one bedroom together until they reach that age. Again, each housing authority policy differs, so contact the office in your area of interest to find out its specific policy. You can use the search bar on the top of this page to search for housing authority contact information.

Here are some examples of bedroom allocation depending on family composition:

  • 1 Adult (1 BR)
  • 2 Adults (1 BR)
  • 2 Adults, 1 Child (2 BR)
  • 2 Adults, 2 Same-Sex Children (2 BR)
  • 2 Adults, 2 Opposite-Sex Children Over Age Limit (3 BR)
  • 2 Adults, 2 Opposite-Sex Children Under Age Limit, 1 Child Over Age Limit (3 BR)
  • 3 Adults, 4 Same-Sex Children (4 BR)


How much would my rent be?

For Section 8, Public Housing, and other affordable housing subsidy programs, your monthly rent payment is generally 30% of the household's monthly gross income, but there are other factors that can determine your rent.

Affordable properties that participate in programs without rental subsidies, such as Low-Income Housing Tax Credit properties, offer a flat monthly rent that is below the market rate. For example, an affordable housing property may charge all tenants $500 for a 1-bedroom unit in an area where the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a 1-bedroom unit is $700.

In regards to the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, it is important to find a unit that is below or near the FMR rate of that area. For example, if you find a 3-bedroom unit going for $1,400 a month, but the FMR of a 3-bedroom unit is $1,100, you may be required by the housing authority to cover that extra $300. If the monthly rent is over the FMR by just a small amount (tens of dollars) the housing authority may allow you to still rent it without paying extra money. However, there is no guarantee that you would be granted by this accommodation.


If your name comes up on a waiting list, but you still owe money to a landlord, do you lose your spot?

You will not lose your spot on the Section 8 waiting list due to a debt, unless that debt is to a housing authority. Housing authorities don't usually require a credit check (though they do require a criminal background check) for the Housing Choice Voucher program.

However, you should make sure that your payment agreement with the landlord is well documented on paper. Make sure to save all of your payment receipts. If there is a public record of that debt to a landlord, you should ask them to remove the record when you pay it in full.


Please confirm this information with your the housing authority you applied through. To find contact information, search our website for your area.


What are the requirements to be a Section 8 landlord? Are housing quality standards uniform throughout the country?

This page on HUD's website is a good place to start to learn about being a landlord. The housing quality standards for the Section 8 program are uniform across the country however, since they are interpreted and enforced by thousands of different housing authorities and inspectors, there are large discrepancies in standards from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. To view HUD's standard quality standards, go here. You should be prepared for different interpretation by different housing authorities and even different inspectors within the same housing authority.


If your income increases, are you still eligible for affordable housing?

That depends on if your income still qualifies for the income limit. If it is still under the limit, then yes, you are still eligible.

Applicants are required to keep application information up to date, and if there are any changes, such as income or contact information, it must be reported to the housing authority. It is equally important to keep contact information up to date. If you are on a waiting list, and a housing office send a notice that does not get a response, your application may be terminated.

Contact the housing office you apply through to find out both its income limit, and its policy on how to update application information. You can search our website for housing authority and apartment community contact information here.


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Complaints and Scams FAQs

How can I file a complaint?

Complaints and Scams

To file a complaint about your unit or the property you are living in, contact the housing authority or management company that manages your unit.

You can use the search bar on the top of this page to search for housing authority or apartment community contact information.

If you feel you have been mistreated by a housing authority, apartment community, or landlord, visit HUD's web page here, and submit a complaint through the appropriate category.

If you are seeking legal advice, there are legal aid offices in every state that help low-income persons. You can search for a legal aid office near you here.


I applied by paying the fee, but I have not been contacted. What can I do?

If you applied to an affordable apartment community that had an application fee, contact the property to confirm your waiting list status. You can use the search bar on the top of this page to search for housing authority and apartment community contact information.

But if you paid a fee to apply to a Section 8 or Public Housing waiting list, it is likely you are a victim of a scam. It is against HUD policy to charge an application fee for those programs.

You can read more about housing scams in our Housing Scam Prevention Guide.

If you are unsure if a waiting list opening is legitimate, contact the housing authority or apartment community identified on the application for confirmation. If a HUD housing authority is charging an application fee, you may send a complaint to HUD here.


Within a week after applying, I got a nasty and unprofessional response that I was not placed on the waiting list. Could it have been spam?

Being that the letter was unprofessional, and apparently rude in nature, it is unlikely that this letter was sent by the housing office you applied through.


If you receive anything that is supposedly from the office you applied through, and it seems suspicious, verify its legitimacy with the managing office.

You can search our website for housing authority and apartment community contact information. If contact information for a property is not available on our website, please search online by other means.

However, if the letter was sent by an office that offers a HUD program, you may send a complaint to HUD here.

Also, you may want to make sure that you did not apply to a scam that disguises itself as an affordable housing application. You can read more about these scams on our Housing Scam Prevention Guide.


I am afraid to put my Social Security Number on the online application because of hackers. Is it safe to give this information?

As long as it is an official application, it is overall safe to put your Social Security Number on your online application.

Anyone who transmits personal information over the Internet does run a certain amount of risk when submitting the information. However, if you and the housing office are following the right security procedures, that risk is extremely small. In our opinion, the risk is so small, it's worth submitting this information online. Once you have submitted your application, that information is kept private and secure by the housing office.

That being said, make sure you are applying to a legitimate waiting list, and it is not a fake application run by a scammer. You can verify if the application is legitimate by contacting the housing authority or apartment community identified on the application. You can read more on how to identify and avoid scams in our Housing Scam Prevention Guide.

If you have concerns about an online application, contact the housing office for more information.

You can use the search bar on the top of this page to search for housing authority and apartment community contact information.


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Housing Authority FAQs

How can I find out the area the housing authority serves?

Housing Authority

You can find out the area the housing authority serves on its Annual Plan, on Affordable Housing Online, and sometimes on the housing authority's website. You can also call the housing authority and ask a representative to confirm their jurisdiction.

Each housing authority serves a specific, city (or cities), county (or counties), or the entire state. The area served is its jurisdiction. Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher holders participating in that housing authority's program may only use their voucher within its jurisdiction.

This information can be found on the top of all housing authority pages on Affordable Housing Online. Under the "About Housing Authority" section, you will see the line "The Housing Authority serves..." Those areas are the housing authority's jurisdiction. You can confirm this information with the housing authority.

Many housing authority websites display this information, weather it's on the home page, "About Us" page, or Section 8 program. If the jurisdiction cannot be found, search for the Annual Plan document. This document will state the jurisdiction, and may be found on any of the web pages mentioned above. If this information cannot be found online, contact the housing authority.

You can use the search bar on the top of this page to search for housing authority contact information.


Why is the housing authority giving Section 8 vouchers when there are no rentals available, and if there are, they don't take Section 8?

While it is can be difficult for Section 8 voucher holders to find a unit, there are properties and landlords out there that accept Section 8 Vouchers. You can use our website to make your search easier.

Please read our guide on where you can use your voucher, along with step-by-step instructions on how to use our website to find a unit that will accept your voucher.

Also, the housing authority you applied through may have information on landlords who accept vouchers. Contact the housing authority office for more information. You can search our website for housing authority and apartment community contact information here.


What are the regulations about having a Moving to Work voucher?

The Moving to Work voucher program is an ongoing HUD demonstration program that gives an enormous amount of policy flexibility to the 35 housing authorities across the country that are "testing" out the program.

The intent of the demonstration program is to find innovative ways to use housing assistance in a way that will increase financial sustainability for families with children while allowing the program to assist more people with the same level of funding.

Because it's a demonstration program, the "regulations" are not standardized and are set by each individual housing authority that's testing the program. They are still governed by other Federal laws and regulations like the Civil Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act and other regulations but the specific rules around how the housing voucher program is carried out is set by each housing agency.

You can imagine, given the programs name, there will be a requirement that you are actively working, seeking work or going through a training program that will better prepare you for work.

But to find out what the "regulations" are for a MTW voucher in your city (if the MTW demo program is available there), you must contact your local housing authority. You can search our website for housing authority contact information here.


My family and I live in Section 8, but I have to move. Can we continue to receive Section 8 assistance in both places?

You may not use a Section 8 voucher to receive rental assistance in two different units at the same time.

If you are the head of household, you may port your voucher to the area you will be moving to, as long as you have lived in your unit for one year, or were a resident when applying to the Section 8 waiting list. The housing authority that covers the area you are moving to must be currently absorbing vouchers, so contact that office for more information. If the housing authority is not absorbing, you may have to port to a different housing authority that covers a nearby area. Contact the housing authority that manages your voucher for more information. However, if you do port, your family would no longer receive rental assistance in the unit you are currently living in.

If you are not the head of household, you may move out of the unit, but you cannot use your voucher to cover your new unit. You may apply to the Section 8 waiting list through the housing authority that covers the area you are moving to, but the waiting list must be open, and you will be waiting months or years to receive the voucher.

Contact the housing authority that manages your voucher for more information. You can search our website for housing authority contact information here.


Is a resident of the housing authority allowed to serve on its board of directors?

Yes, in fact, having at least one resident on the housing authority's board is required by law, with a few exceptions.


According to CFR 24, Subtitle B, Chapter IX, Part 964, Subpart E; there are a few scenarios in which a housing authority is not required to have a resident on its board of directors (sometime also referred to as the board of commissioners):

  • If the housing authority is located in a state that requires the members of its board to work full time with salary pay.
  • If the housing authority does not have a governing board.
A housing authority may also be exempt from this requirement if it has less than 300 Public Housing units, but only if it meets one of the following conditions:

  1. The housing authority has published a notice to the resident advisory board to inform residents of the opportunity, and there was no response by a resident in 30 days. This notice must be published yearly.
  2. The housing authority only offers the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, and not the Public Housing program.


The housing authority is doing a Section 8 briefing, but the waiting list is closed. What does "briefing" mean?

It is likely that the housing authority is scheduling eligibility appointments with persons on the waiting list. It is also possible that the office hosting an event providing information on how to apply to the waiting list, or providing Section 8 tenants with information about housing authority policy.


Contact the housing authority you are referring to for more information. You can search our website for housing authority and apartment community contact information.


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Affordable Housing Locations FAQs

In what areas can you live for Section 8?

Affordable Housing Locations

While you may apply anywhere in the country, you must live within the jurisdiction of the housing authority providing assistance once you have been notified that you may begin to receive rental assistance.

In regards to the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, if you were not a resident of the area you applied to, you must live within the jurisdiction of that housing authority for one year before you are able transfer to a new area, known as porting. If you were a resident of the housing authority's jurisdiction when applying, you may port it to a new area at any time.

For example, if you live in California, and there is a Section 8 HCV opening by the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) in Maryland, you must move to that housing authority's jurisdiction to receive rental assistance. But, if you lived in Baltimore, MD when you applied to the HABC Section 8 HCV waiting list, you may port it out of the area at any time after receiving your voucher.

Contact the housing authority in your area of interest to find out more information about its specific jurisdiction. You can search our website for housing authority contact information here.

If you are looking for a unit that will accept your voucher, please read our guide here.

Also, the housing authority you applied through may have information on landlords who accept vouchers. Contact the housing authority office for more information. Please click the link above to search for housing authority contact information.


The Section 8 and/or Public Housing waiting lists in my area are closed. Are there other affordable housing programs?

If the waiting list is closed in the area you want to apply in, you cannot apply at that time, but there may be other programs available other than Section 8 HCV and Public Housing. Housing authorities often provide additional housing programs. You can also search our website for your area of interest, and scroll down to the list of affordable housing communities that may have other programs available. Please contact the housing authority or apartment community for more information.


If you report a change in your income, will they make you move?

If your income changes, and it is still under the specified income limit for the number of persons in your household, you likely wouldn't have to move. And if your monthly rent is income-based, your monthly contribution should decrease.


However, if your income change is above the income limit for the number of persons in your household, you may no longer qualify for rental assistance.

Please contact the housing office that manages your unit for more information. You can search our website for housing authority and apartment community contact information.


If I apply to a waiting list in another state, will they require that I come in for an interview before receiving rental assistance?

Usually, housing offices won't require an in-person interview until your name reaches the top of the waiting list. However, some offices may require an interview immediately upon submitting your application, or schedule an interview at a later date.


Housing office policies also differ on who is required to attend the interview. Some require all household members to be present, while others only ask for either all adult (18+) household members, or just the applicant to attend the interview.

If you apply to a waiting list in an area outside of your current location, you should plan to travel to that location at some point before receiving rental assistance.

Contact the housing office you apply through to find out its policy on applicant interviews. You can search our website for housing authority and apartment community contact information here.


Isn't affordable housing supposed to be income based? The property manager said they were affordable housing, but charges all tenants the same monthly rent.

Not all affordable housing programs are operated by having the tenant pay a portion of their income as rent. There are affordable housing programs, such as Low-Income Housing Tax Credit properties, that offer reduced monthly rent. It is likely that the property you are referring to is one of these properties. Your rent is still below the market rate.


My Section 8 landlord keeps upping the rent. What can I do?

If your landlord is upping the rent to an amount that is not affordable, it's time to look for another unit.

We are unable to provide individual housing search assistance.

Please read our guide on where you can use your voucher, along with step-by-step instructions on how to use our website to find a unit that will accept your voucher.

Also, the housing authority you applied through may have information on landlords who accept vouchers. Contact the housing authority office for more information. You can search our website for housing authority contact information here.


View All Affordable Housing Locations Questions

Emergency FAQs

Does HUD help in emergency cases for housing?

Emergency

No, HUD affordable housing programs are not emergency housing programs, and due to high demand, it is not rare to be on a waiting list for several years.

Generally, large metropolitan areas have long waiting lists, while lower populated areas have shorter waiting lists. There are housing authorities and apartment communities with very short waiting lists, but these opportunities are very rare, and applicants must still go through an approval process.

If you are in need of emergency housing, visit HUD's website here. Click on the state you are living in, and then click the "Find Homeless Resources" link under the "I Want to" section. Also, ome housing authorities participate in the HUD Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, which assists persons who would be homeless without help from this program. Please visit HUD's HPRP website for more information.

If you need to find an apartment quickly, an affordable apartment community's waiting list is usually shorter than a Section 8 or Public Housing waiting list (if there is one at all). However, the waiting list may still be many months to years long, and applicants must go through an approval process. You can search for an affordable apartment in your area here. The pages for many communities listed on Affordable Housing Online include a way to directly contact the property for more information. You may call the toll free phone number provided on the page, or submit the online information request form. If these methods of contact are not available on the community’s page, visit the property for more information.


My income will be lower after I move. Would I apply using my current income, or the income I will receive after moving?

Even if you are expecting an income change in the future, you must report the total gross income you are currently receiving.


If placed onto a waiting list, you must report any changes to your pre-application, such as contact and income information. This helps the office determine eligibility once your name reaches the top of the list.

So, once your income changes, you must immediately report that change to the housing office you applied through. Contact the office you applied through to find out how to update application information. You can search our website for housing authority and apartment community contact information.


Does HUD help if you are homeless or living in a shelter?

Yes, there are housing programs and policies in place that help homeless persons and persons living in a shelter receive housing assistance.

Some housing authorities participate in the HUD Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, which assists persons who would be homeless without help from this program. Please visit HUD's HPRP website for more information.

Also, many waiting lists have preferences that place qualified applicants higher on the waiting list than general applicants. Persons living in a shelter and homeless persons is a preference that may be found on an application. The specific qualifications vary depending on the housing authority or apartment community offering this preference. More information about preferences can be found here.


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Public Housing FAQs

Is there a universal nationwide waiting list for Section 8 and Public Housing?

Public Housing

There is no universal nationwide waiting list for any affordable housing program.

Section 8 and Public Housing waiting lists are managed by Public Housing Authorities, which serve a specific jurisdiction at the local level, whether it is on a city or county-wide basis. There are very few housing authorities that manage a waiting list for an entire state, and if they do, there tends to be a separate waiting list for each county. The only single state-wide Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher waiting list we are aware of is the Massachusetts Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Centralized Waiting List; but not all housing authorities in the state are participants and manage their own waiting list instead.

You can find information on how to apply to open Section 8 waiting lists nationwide here, and open Public Housing waiting lists here.


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Affordable Housing Online FAQs

Can you send an application to me?

Affordable Housing Online

No, we are unable to send an application to any of our users.

We are not affiliated with any housing authority or apartment community. We are a news and information source, and do not manage any affordable housing programs.

To find out how to obtain an application, read our Low Income Housing Guide for Renters.


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Other Housing Progams FAQs

Is there a program to help purchase a home? (Homeownership)

Other Housing Progams

Yes, there are homeownership programs that help guide qualified persons to purchase their own home, and HUD's website provides a great amount of advice for future homeowners; including what programs are available, how to get a loan, other information about the process of purchasing a home.

  • HUD's homeownership web page provides a wealth of information for anyone looking to purchase a home; starting with determining how much you can afford, all the way to closing on your new home.
  • Some housing authorities that participate in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program offer a homeownership program for qualified current HCV tenants. Contact the housing authority that manages your voucher, and ask if it offers a Section 8 homeownership program. You can use the search bar on the top of this page to search our website for housing authority contact information.
  • Some housing authorities that participate in the Public Housing program offer a homeownership program for available Public Housing units. The housing authority may restrict purchases to only current qualified residents. Contact the housing authority in your area of interest, and ask if it offers a Public Housing homeownership program. You can use the search bar on the top of this page to search our website for housing authority contact information.


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