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.

Frequently Asked Affordable Housing Questions

Coronavirus FAQs

Can I be evicted if I can't pay rent because of coronavirus?

Updated as of July 31, 2020

Renters can get evicted for not paying rent that is due if their area does not have an eviction moratorium in effect. However, renters in areas that do have a moratorium on eviction currently in effect are protected from being evicted if they can't pay rent.

The eviction moratorium for renters in federal housing properties has expired as of July 25, 2020. It is unknown if it will be extended for federal housing programs.

You can find out if your area has a moratorium on evictions in effect here.

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Emergency Housing FAQs

Are there HUD emergency housing assistance programs?

No, HUD's affordable housing programs are not emergency housing programs, and due to high demand, it is common to be on a waiting list for several months or years. Generally, large metropolitan areas have long waiting lists, while lower populated areas have shorter waiting lists.

However, your state may have its own emergency assistance program that helps with rent, utilities or other emergencies; and HUD has made that information easy to find.

  • If you are in need of emergency housing, or at risk of losing your current housing, visit HUD's website here. Select the link for your state, and on the next page, scroll down to the "I Want To" section. There, select the "Find Homeless Resources" link for a list of available local resources. Helpful resources include:
    • Shelter locations (Locations will be listed for men, women, and children)
    • Emergency rental assistance
    • Avoid foreclosure
    • Help with your utility bills
    • Food banks
    • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
    • Homeless service groups
    • Legal assistance
    • Social Security offices
    • Homeless veterans
    • United Way
    • Jobs and job training
    • Help hotlines
    • HUD resources
  • If you need to find an affordable apartment quickly, waiting lists for apartment communities run by private management companies are usually shorter than a Section 8 or Public Housing waiting list managed by a HUD housing authority. However, many waiting lists are still months or years long, and applicants must go through an approval process that takes some time.
    • You can search for an affordable apartment in your area here. Type your city or county in the search bar at the top of the page, and then select the area in the drop down menu. The pages for many communities listed on Affordable Housing Online include a way to directly contact the management office for more information. If these options are available, you can call the phone number provided on the page, or send an online message directly to the office through Affordable Housing Online's form. If these methods of contact are not available on a community’s page, visit the community's location for more information.

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Section 8 FAQs

What is Section 8?

Section 8 is the common term for federal low-income rental assistance programs managed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The term Section 8 is usually used to describe the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, which helps tenants pay rent based on their income, and pays participating landlords the remainder of the rent. "Section 8" can also refer to the Section 8 Project-Based Voucher (PBV) program, and the Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) program. In both programs, the tenant typically pays 30% of their monthly income for housing costs.

Section 8 may also refer to either the tenant-based Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program or the Project-based Rental Assistance (PBRA) program.

It gets its name from being Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937.

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Public Housing FAQs

Can I smoke in my apartment?

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.

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Evictions FAQs

What does eviction mean?

An eviction is when a landlord who owns a property removes a tenant who is occupying that property. A formal eviction requires the tenant and landlord to go through a legal process.

Evictions may occur if the tenant does not follow the rules agreed to in the landlord’s lease, and in some areas, landlords do not need a reason to evict. Tenants may be evicted for a number of reasons, including not paying rent, destruction of property, illegal activity, disrupting other tenants on the property, or violating rules of a lease.

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Waiting Lists FAQs

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.

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Housing Assistance Eligibility FAQs

How do I apply for affordable housing assistance?

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.

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Housing Policy, Landlords, and Tenants FAQs

What is HUD?

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, commonly abbreviated as HUD, is the main agency that oversees federal affordable housing and community development programs. It was created as a cabinet-level department in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.

Since 2017, Ben Carson has served as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under the Trump Administration. The position was last held by Julian Castro from 2014 until 2017.

Housing Opportunity and Rental Assistance

HUD administers affordable housing programs that help low-income households pay for rent. Through these programs, HUD may also offer supportive services, utility cost reimbursements, self-sufficiency planning, and job training for eligible households. The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, and Public Housing are HUD’s primary affordable housing programs.

HUD also funds housing for populations with special needs. These programs include the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly, Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities, and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) programs. HUD also administers grants to help persons experiencing homelessness, including shelters, transitional housing, and services.

Community Development

HUD provides funding to states, counties, and cities for public infrastructure and economic development. Some of these programs can be used to build or rehabilitate affordable housing including the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME). Through the Office of Public and Indian Housing, HUD provides block grants to tribes for housing and community development through the Indian Housing Block Grant and Indian Community Development Block Grant programs.

Affordable Homeownership

HUD assists homebuyers through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). FHA-insured mortgages have helped millions of first-time homebuyers purchase homes. HUD also oversees lead paint and hazard removal programs, and standards for manufactured housing.

Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity

HUD is charged with enforcing the Fair Housing Act to address housing discrimination through the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. HUD also administers funds to rebuild communities after natural disasters through the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Relief program.

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Complaints and Scams FAQs

How can I file a complaint?

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.

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Housing Authority FAQs

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

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.

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