I just applied to a waiting list, now what do I do?


Now, you wait until confirming if you have been placed on the waiting list.

It is a bit complicated to explain how long the application approval process takes, especially since the process is different at each different housing office. Once your application has been submitted, it will generally take between a couple of weeks and a couple of months for it to be processed. This depends on the resources available to review applications. Usually, online applications are processed more quickly than paper applications.

If the application meets the guidelines to be placed on the waiting list, the applicant will be contacted; usually via a letter or email. The application or public notice about the waiting list opening may have information on when waiting list status will be available, and how to find out your status. Many agencies do not contact applicants who were not placed on the waiting list, but some will send a notice to all applicants confirming if they have been selected.

Once you are on a waiting list, your wait time varies greatly depending on the agency you applied through. Waiting lists are generally sorted either by random lottery, or by date and time the application is received by the agency. 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.

Applicants who have been placed on the waiting list must inform the housing authority immediately if your application information changes (such as contact information, income, and household members). In the case that the office sends a notice that does not get returned, or if application information is out of date, your name may be terminated from the waiting list. Contact the housing authority to find out how to update application information.

You can contact the housing office you apply through to find out if a representative can estimate the current length of the waiting list. If the office cannot make an estimate, and you apply through a housing authority, 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. However, 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 applied to, contact the appropriate housing authority or apartment community. You can use the search bar on the top of this page to search for housing authority and apartment community contact information.

More Waiting Lists 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?