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.

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:

More FAQs from Low Income Households

  • 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?
  • Who qualifies for affordable housing assistance?
  • What has to be included in my household income?
  • What does an income limit mean?
  • Do I qualify with a criminal record?