Sometimes you may be required to be employed to receive housing assistance, but for the most part, most programs do not require active employment.
There are many different housing assistance programs in the country. Each of these programs has their own set of rules. These rules can be created and dictated by the federal government, state government, local government or the private landlord providing the housing.
For example, the Moving to Work program was created in 2006 as a demonstration project by HUD to encourage more Section 8 voucher recipients to get full time employment. The program has been tested in 39 different housing authorities including in Atlanta, Baltimore and Chicago. The point of the demonstration program is similar to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), also known as Welfare, where aid recipients have a time limit for receiving the assistance.
In other affordable housing programs like Low Income Housing Tax Credits, the private owners and managers of the property may have a basic tenant requirement that you be actively employed (or actively seeking employment) to continue to qualify for residency. Much like a continued good credit rating may be a prerequisite to your bank maintaining the amount of credit available on your credit card, keeping a job could be a requirement of your lease.
There are also waiting lists that may have a preference for employed applicants. This preference may also appear as "working" or "working family." Applicants who qualify for the preference must provide proof of employment.
For more information, contact the housing authority or apartment community you are interested in applying to. You can use the search bar above to search for housing authority and apartment community contact information.