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.

Is there any way I can receive priority placement on a waiting list? DEPRICATED

Answer

Yes. These criteria are referred to by HUD and Public Housing Authorities as preferences.

There are many preferences that are permitted and employed in both Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher waiting list management.

Common preferences include local residency (applicants who reside in or have full time employment in the jurisdiction of the housing authority), persons with disabilities, seniors, veterans, homeless persons, victims of domestic violence, working families, victims of natural disaster/government action and families with children. There may also be other preferences for a waiting list not identified above.

The two most common (usually of equal weight) preferences are for seniors and persons with disabilities. The third most common preference is local residency.

The local residency preference is an interesting one. It is illegal for housing authorities to restrict eligibility based on a potential clients current location, save for a very rare circumstance that must be approved by HUD. Generally, if a resident of Washington DC wants to apply to a housing waiting list in northern Virginia, they may do so. However, if that PHA in Northern Virginia wishes to prioritize serving current residents over "out of towners," they may establish a local residency preference.

Any new applicants to the waiting list are ranked according to their preferences. Usually, points are allocated to various preferences and applicants are ranked by points. It is possible and common, for applicants to have more than one preference, ranking them even higher. The effect of this is usually anyone without a preference sits at the bottom of the list and never gets served since the programs are already oversubscribed.

A PHA's preferences must be in accordance with the federal regulations for each program and be published in the PHA's annual and administrative plans.

The regulations of the HCV program can be found online here, and the Public Housing preference policy can be found online here.

More FAQs from Low Income Households

  • What has to be included in my household income?
  • 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?
  • 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?
  • Can I apply to multiple waiting lists?