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 Emergency Housing Questions

Can I be evicted if my HUD apartment is sold?

If a Project Based Section 8 apartment community is sold and the new owner decides not to renew the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract with HUD, they can permanently relocate residents. However, under the federal Uniform Relocation Act (URA), Project-Based Section 8 tenants receive certain protections including relocation advisory services, extended relocation notice requirements, moving expense reimbursement and substantial payments to cover the increased costs of replacement housing.

According to Relocation Assistance To Tenants Displaced From Their Homes (HUD-1042-CPD), HUD booklet for displaced tenants, if a tenant is notified they will be displaced, "it is important that you do not move before you learn what you must do to receive the relocation payments and other assistance to which you are entitled."

The benefits displaced tenants are entitled to are:

  • Extended move out notice. You are not required to move without at least 90 days advance written notice. The written notice must identify at least one comparable rental property available to you and the earliest date by which you must move.
  • Relocation advisory services. Counseling services that include referrals to comparable replacement housing, inspection of replacement housing to ensure it meets established standards, claim for preparation assistance, and other counseling to minimize the cost and impact of the move.
  • Moving Expense Payment. Payment of actual moving expense and/or a fixed moving expense and dislocation allowance.
  • Allowance for Replacement Housing. To provide a renter with the financial resources needed to find replacement housing, the tenant is entitled to relocation assistance payments to buy or rent replacement housing. The URA entitles displaced renters to rental assistance for a 42 month period following displacement. The amount of monthly assistance is determined by subtracting 30% of a low-income tenant's monthly income from the monthly rent payment for the replacement housing. For example, if a displaced Section 8 tenant earns $500 per month and replacement housing costs $800 per month, for 42 months, the tenant would receive $650 per month for 42 months, $800 (the new rent) minus $150 (30% of monthly income).

To receive these benefits, a displaced tenant must file a claim.

Relocation regulations and the benefits tenants are entitled to are complicated. Many purchasers of Project-Based Section 8 properties are either inexperienced with the program and its requirements or choose to ignore them. Often, a new owner tries to just evict everyone upon assuming ownership without following the Uniform Relocation Act, which is unlawful.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are being displaced, it is very important that you do not move until you identify what your rights are.

HUD has a great overview of the URA and even provides Regional Relocation Specialists (directory) that can assist tenants in danger of relocation.

Does HUD help in emergency cases for housing?

No, HUD affordable housing programs are not emergency housing programs, and due to high demand, 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. There are housing authorities and apartment communities with very short waiting lists, but these opportunities are very rare, and applicants must still go through an approval process.

If you are in need of emergency housing, visit HUD's website here. Click on the state you are living in, and then click the "Find Homeless Resources" link under the "I Want to" section. Also, ome housing authorities participate in the HUD Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, which assists persons who would be homeless without help from this program. Please visit HUD's HPRP website for more information.

If you need to find an apartment quickly, an affordable apartment community's waiting list is usually shorter than a Section 8 or Public Housing waiting list (if there is one at all). However, the waiting list may still be many months to years long, and applicants must go through an approval process. You can search for an affordable apartment in your area here. The pages for many communities listed on Affordable Housing Online include a way to directly contact the property for more information. You may call the toll free phone number provided on the page, or submit the online information request form. If these methods of contact are not available on the community’s page, visit the property for more information.

My income will be lower after I move. Would I apply using my current income, or the income I will receive after moving?

Even if you are expecting an income change in the future, you must report the total gross income you are currently receiving.

If placed onto a waiting list, you must report any changes to your pre-application, such as contact and income information. This helps the office determine eligibility once your name reaches the top of the list.

So, once your income changes, you must immediately report that change to the housing office you applied through. Contact the office you applied through to find out how to update application information. You can search our website for housing authority and apartment community contact information.

Does HUD help if you are homeless or living in a shelter?

Yes, there are housing programs and policies in place that help homeless persons and persons living in a shelter receive housing assistance.

Some housing authorities participate in the HUD Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, which assists persons who would be homeless without help from this program. Please visit HUD's HPRP website for more information.

Also, many waiting lists have preferences that place qualified applicants higher on the waiting list than general applicants. Persons living in a shelter and homeless persons is a preference that may be found on an application. The specific qualifications vary depending on the housing authority or apartment community offering this preference. More information about preferences can be found here.