Frequently Asked Housing Assistance Eligibility Questions

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?

Any housing office that provides a HUD program is legally required to explain to you why you did not qualify. Due to the high demand of affordable housing, and comparatively low supply, it is possible that you did qualify, but were not among the applicants that were placed on the waiting list. For example, 20,000+ people may apply to a waiting list opening that is placing 1,000 applicants on that waiting list.


Contact the housing office you applied through to find out why you did not qualify. You can search our website for housing authority and apartment community contact information.


Who qualifies for affordable housing assistance?

The most important qualifier is income. For most housing programs, the general qualification requires that the household makes less than 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI) of that area to qualify.

To find an estimate of the AMI for your area of interest, you can search our website for your area and scroll down to our chart of income limits.

There are other significant qualifiers such as housing and criminal history. Past evictions and owing money to a housing authority may make it difficult to qualify. Having a criminal record may make it difficult for a person to receive housing, but it does not automatically disqualify them. Generally, offices are more lenient to persons with an arrest record, but persons with a conviction may find greater difficulty in qualifying. Furthermore, felons face much greater difficulty in qualifying, especially if it was a violence or drug related sentence. Each housing office operates differently, but may allow persons with a criminal record to qualify based on the length of time since the offense occurred, and the severity of the crime. Sex offenders will not qualify for affordable housing.

The Section 8 and Public Housing programs do not issue a credit check, but Section 8 landlords likely will, as well as individual affordable housing properties.

Even if you are placed on a waiting list, it is not a guarantee that you qualify for housing. Many housing offices do not determine eligibility until your name reaches the top of the waiting list.

Contact the housing office you apply through for more information about the qualification process. You can search our website for housing authority and apartment community contact information.


What has to be included in my household income?


Income Inclusions [CFR 24, Subtitle A, Part 5, Subpart F §5.609(b)]:

  1. The full amount, before any payroll deductions, of wages and salaries, overtime pay, commissions, fees, tips and bonuses, and other compensation for personal services;
  2. The net income from the operation of a business or profession. Expenditures for business expansion or amortization of capital indebtedness shall not be used as deductions in determining net income. An allowance for depreciation of assets used in a business or profession may be deducted, based on straight line depreciation, as provided in Internal Revenue Service regulations. Any withdrawal of cash or assets from the operation of a business or profession will be included in income, except to the extent the withdrawal is reimbursement of cash or assets invested in the operation by the family;
  3. Interest, dividends, and other net income of any kind from real or personal property. Expenditures for amortization of capital indebtedness shall not be used as deductions in determining net income. An allowance for depreciation is permitted only as authorized in paragraph (b)(2) of this section. Any withdrawal of cash or assets from an investment will be included in income, except to the extent the withdrawal is reimbursement of cash or assets invested by the family. Where the family has net family assets in excess of $5,000, annual income shall include the greater of the actual income derived from all net family assets or a percentage of the value of such assets based on the current passbook savings rate, as determined by HUD;
  4. The full amount of periodic amounts received from Social Security, annuities, insurance policies, retirement funds, pensions, disability or death benefits, and other similar types of periodic receipts, including a lump-sum amount or prospective monthly amounts for the delayed start of a periodic amount (except as provided in paragraph (c)(14) of this section);
  5. Payments in lieu of earnings, such as unemployment and disability compensation, worker's compensation and severance pay (except as provided in paragraph (c)(3) of this section);
  6. Welfare assistance payments. (i) Welfare assistance payments made under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program are included in annual income only to the extent such payments:
    (A) Qualify as assistance under the TANF program definition at 45 CFR 260.31; and;
    (B) Are not otherwise excluded under paragraph (c) of this section.
    (ii) If the welfare assistance payment includes an amount specifically designated for shelter and utilities that is subject to adjustment by the welfare assistance agency in accordance with the actual cost of shelter and utilities, the amount of welfare assistance income to be included as income shall consist of:
    (A) The amount of the allowance or grant exclusive of the amount specifically designated for shelter or utilities; plus
    (B) The maximum amount that the welfare assistance agency could in fact allow the family for shelter and utilities. If the family's welfare assistance is ratably reduced from the standard of need by applying a percentage, the amount calculated under this paragraph shall be the amount resulting from one application of the percentage.
  7. Periodic and determinable allowances, such as alimony and child support payments, and regular contributions or gifts received from organizations or from persons not residing in the dwelling;
  8. All regular pay, special pay and allowances of a member of the Armed Forces (except as provided in paragraph (c)(7) of this section).
  9. For section 8 programs only and as provided in 24 CFR 5.612, any financial assistance, in excess of amounts received for tuition and any other required fees and charges, that an individual receives under the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001 et seq.), from private sources, or from an institution of higher education (as defined under the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1002)), shall be considered income to that individual, except that financial assistance described in this paragraph is not considered annual income for persons over the age of 23 with dependent children. For purposes of this paragraph, "financial assistance" does not include loan proceeds for the purpose of determining income.
Income Exclusions [CFR 24, Subtitle A, Part 5, Subpart F §5.609(c)]:

  1. Income from employment of children (including foster children) under the age of 18 years;
  2. Payments received for the care of foster children or foster adults (usually persons with disabilities, unrelated to the tenant family, who are unable to live alone);
  3. Lump-sum additions to family assets, such as inheritances, insurance payments (including payments under health and accident insurance and worker's compensation), capital gains and settlement for personal or property losses (except as provided in paragraph (b)(5) of this section);
  4. Amounts received by the family that are specifically for, or in reimbursement of, the cost of medical expenses for any family member;
  5. Income of a live-in aide, as defined in §5.403;
  6. Subject to paragraph (b)(9) of this section, the full amount of student financial assistance paid directly to the student or to the educational institution;
  7. The special pay to a family member serving in the Armed Forces who is exposed to hostile fire;
  8. (i) Amounts received under training programs funded by HUD;
    (ii) Amounts received by a person with a disability that are disregarded for a limited time for purposes of Supplemental Security Income eligibility and benefits because they are set aside for use under a Plan to Attain Self-Sufficiency (PASS);
    (iii) Amounts received by a participant in other publicly assisted programs which are specifically for or in reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses incurred (special equipment, clothing, transportation, child care, etc.) and which are made solely to allow participation in a specific program;
    (iv) Amounts received under a resident service stipend. A resident service stipend is a modest amount (not to exceed $200 per month) received by a resident for performing a service for the PHA or owner, on a part-time basis, that enhances the quality of life in the development. Such services may include, but are not limited to, fire patrol, hall monitoring, lawn maintenance, resident initiatives coordination, and serving as a member of the PHA's governing board. No resident may receive more than one such stipend during the same period of time;
    (v) Incremental earnings and benefits resulting to any family member from participation in qualifying State or local employment training programs (including training programs not affiliated with a local government) and training of a family member as resident management staff. Amounts excluded by this provision must be received under employment training programs with clearly defined goals and objectives, and are excluded only for the period during which the family member participates in the employment training program;
  9. Temporary, nonrecurring or sporadic income (including gifts);
  10. Reparation payments paid by a foreign government pursuant to claims filed under the laws of that government by persons who were persecuted during the Nazi era;
  11. Earnings in excess of $480 for each full-time student 18 years old or older (excluding the head of household and spouse);
  12. Adoption assistance payments in excess of $480 per adopted child;
  13. [Reserved]
  14. Deferred periodic amounts from supplemental security income and Social Security benefits that are received in a lump sum amount or in prospective monthly amounts, or any deferred Department of Veterans Affairs disability benefits that are received in a lump sum amount or in prospective monthly amounts.
  15. Amounts received by the family in the form of refunds or rebates under State or local law for property taxes paid on the dwelling unit;
  16. Amounts paid by a State agency to a family with a member who has a developmental disability and is living at home to offset the cost of services and equipment needed to keep the developmentally disabled family member at home; or
  17. Amounts specifically excluded by any other Federal statute from consideration as income for purposes of determining eligibility or benefits under a category of assistance programs that includes assistance under any program to which the exclusions set forth in 24 CFR 5.609(c) apply. A notice will be published in the Federal Register and distributed to PHAs and housing owners identifying the benefits that qualify for this exclusion. Updates will be published and distributed when necessary.
For more information about income inclusions and exclusions, contact the housing office you apply through. You can search our website for housing authority and apartment community contact information here.


What does an income limit mean?

The income limit for an affordable housing program is the maximum amount of income a household can earn to qualify to receive assistance.

The specific figure is based on the city or county's Area Median Income (AMI), and is adjusted depending on how many persons live in the household (including children). Income qualification is generally separated into three main tiers: Low Income (80% AMI), Very Low Income (50% AMI), and Extremely Low Income (30% AMI). However, the number of tiers used and percentage of AMI used for qualification varies by each housing program. The required income limits for a waiting list may be found online on a public notice for a waiting list opening, or the housing authority or apartment community's website. If income limit information cannot be found, contact the appropriate housing authority or apartment community. Scroll up to the search bar on the top of this page to find contact information.

A household's income is calculated by its gross income, which is the total income received before making subtractions for taxes and other deductions. When applying for any HUD affordable housing program, there are certain means of income that do not have to be reported. Required income inclusions and exclusions for HUD programs 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:


Do I qualify with a criminal record?

Having a criminal record may make it difficult for a person to receive housing, but it does not automatically disqualify them.

Read more about qualifying for affordable housing with a criminal record in our Housing for Persons with Criminal Records Guide here.


How do I apply for affordable housing assistance?

Depending on the housing program you apply to, applications for an open waiting list will be available from the area's housing authority, or by an affordable apartment community's management company (or landlord).

Housing authorities manage the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher and Public Housing programs, but not all offer both programs. The housing authority may also participate in other housing programs, and offer affordable apartment communities as well.

In addition to programs available by housing authorities, property management companies and private landlords operate affordable apartment communities.

How to get an application varies by each housing office. Applications are usually available online, in the office, or by calling to request one via mail.

The housing authority pages on Affordable Housing Online provide information on how to apply to a specific waiting list. You can find more information on how to apply to open Section 8 waiting lists here, and open Public Housing waiting lists here. If information on how to apply is not available, contact the housing authority for assistance.

Affordable apartment community pages on Affordable Housing online have buttons that allows you to email or call the property, and find out how to apply. If contact information is not available, visit the property in person. You can start your search for an affordable apartment here.


How old do you have to be to apply?

Generally, applicants must be at least 18 years old to apply.

However, there are waiting list openings and affordable housing communities that are specifically for elderly - ages 61 and older - or near-elderly - ages 50 to 61 - households. In that instance, the head of household or co-head must meet the minimum age requirements of 62 or older for housing assistance for the elderly and 50-61 for programs serving the near-elderly.


If my child is disabled, would I qualify for a disability preference?

Generally, no.


In most cases, a household may qualify for a preference only if the head of household, co-head or spouse qualifies. Minors who qualify would not usually grant that household the preference on the waiting list. Still, each housing authority sets their preferences independently, and can define these preferences however they like. It is possible the housing office you apply through looks at it a little differently. For that reason, you should contact your local housing authority directly to be sure.

You can find contact for your housing authority by searching our website here.


What should my credit score be in order to receive housing?

Your credit score will not have an affect on your eligibility to receive Section 8 or Public Housing assistance. However, once you receive a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, prospective landlords will likely require a credit score as part of your background check. Also, other affordable housing programs, such as Low-Income Housing Tax Credit properties, will likely have a credit score as a part of the approval process.

To obtain a credit report, you are able to get a credit report by multiple credit report agencies, but there are three agencies that are the largest and most widely-used. These agencies are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Your credit score will likely differ between agencies, but your score should be similar between these three.

Some factors of what determines your credit score include bill payment history and amount of money owed. For further information about what determines your credit score, visit this FTC page.

Everyone is eligible for a free credit report once a year by each of the three agencies noted above. Do not fall for scams and other unethical companies that make you pay for your credit score if you have not requested one that year.

Credit scores are generally between a scale of 350-850. According to sources online, including myFico.com, the national average credit score is 690, and any score in the range of mid-600s and higher is considered "good credit."

Important note: "Good credit" does not determine eligibility to live in a unit. It is up to the landlord's or property manager's discretion to reject or accept your credit score. There is no set qualifier.

There are ways to build your credit score if your reported number is low. Information on how to improve your credit score can be found on this FTC page.


If you currently have no income whatsoever, will places accept your application?

Yes. Simply put, the most important qualifier is income. Generally, applicants must make less than 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI) for that area to qualify. Having no income at all falls under that category.

Also, there are many factors that determine your income, which include welfare and Social Security benefits. So, even if you don't receive a paycheck from a job, you may still receive income that is applicable for affordable housing program. Please view this HUD document that explains what specific sources of income are included and excluded when declaring your income on an application.

You can search our website for your area of interest here, and scroll down to the AMI chart for that area. However, please confirm income qualifications with the housing authority or apartment community you are interested in applying through, as affordable housing offices set their own income limits.


If I lost my rental assistance, can I get it again?

In most cases, if you lost your rental assistance, you must re-apply to the waiting list to receive assistance again.

Whether or not you can regain the rental assistance you lost depends on a number of factors.

If you recently lost your assistance for any reason, you may request a hearing with the housing office to regain that assistance. However, if your assistance was terminated due to a violation of policy, it is unlikely you will get your assistance back.

If you feel you lost your assistance due to mistreatment by the housing office, you may want to seek legal advice. There are legal aid offices in every state that help low-income persons. You can search for a legal aid office near you here.

If it has been months or years since you lost your rental assistance, you must re-apply as a new applicant.

Contact the housing office that managed your unit for more information. You can search our website for housing authority and apartment community contact information.


Will slow rent payments or an eviction keep me from getting accepted?

Having an eviction on your record may make it difficult to qualify for housing. Generally, it depends on the reason the household was evicted. Contact the office you are interested in applying through for more information.

If you owe money to to any housing authority, you will have to settle that debt to be eligible for assistance again. If that is the case, you may want to contact the housing authority you owe money to so you can set up a payment plan.

As each housing office operates differently contact the office you apply through for more information. You can search our website for housing authority and apartment community contact information here.


My mother no longer needs assistance anymore, but it would help me and my children. Would she be able to pass it down to us?

If your mother applied as the Head of Household, and you were on the application as a household member, it is unlikely that she can take her name off and name you as the new Head of Household. Generally, you may only pass assistance down if the Head of Household has passed away.

However, all housing offices are run differently, and there may be a rule at that specific office that allows this. Contact the housing office that manages your rental assistance for more information.



When applying, can I submit a copy of a document instead of the original?

Each housing authority operates differently, so we cannot give you a definite answer.


Some housing offices require you to submit the original document (such as a birth certificate or Social Security Card), but others require copies to be submitted. Please contact the office you apply through with this inquiry.


Will child and transportation expenses be deducted when calculating our contribution to rent?

Different programs have different ways they handle this. Usually, transportation expenses may not be deducted when calculating the tenant rent payment. In some programs (like Section 8), child care expenses and medical expenses can be deducted to a certain extent.

You will need to verify with each housing office how this gets calculated.



If you report a change in your income, will they make you move?

If your income changes, and it is still under the specified income limit for the number of persons in your household, you likely wouldn't have to move. And if your monthly rent is income-based, your monthly contribution should decrease.


However, if your income change is above the income limit for the number of persons in your household, you may no longer qualify for rental assistance.

Please contact the housing office that manages your unit for more information. You can search our website for housing authority and apartment community contact 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.


If your income increases, are you still eligible for affordable housing?

That depends on if your income still qualifies for the income limit. If it is still under the limit, then yes, you are still eligible.

Applicants are required to keep application information up to date, and if there are any changes, such as income or contact information, it must be reported to the housing authority. It is equally important to keep contact information up to date. If you are on a waiting list, and a housing office send a notice that does not get a response, your application may be terminated.

Contact the housing office you apply through to find out both its income limit, and its policy on how to update application information. You can search our website for housing authority and apartment community contact information here.


Isn't affordable housing supposed to be income based? The property manager said they were affordable housing, but charges all tenants the same monthly rent.

Not all affordable housing programs are operated by having the tenant pay a portion of their income as rent. There are affordable housing programs, such as Low-Income Housing Tax Credit properties, that offer reduced monthly rent. It is likely that the property you are referring to is one of these properties. Your rent is still below the market rate.


Am I eligible for affordable housing as a green card holder?

Yes, to be eligible for Section 8 and Public Housing, applicants must be a United States citizen or a noncitizen who has eligible immigration status. A United States Permanent Resident Card (otherwise known as a green card) is a valid document confirming eligible immigration status.

There are also affordable communities (such as Low-Income Housing Tax Credit communities) that do not have any citizenship requirements, so the fact that they have a green card does not apply to eligibility.


Are you required to be employed to receive housing assistance?

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.


Can a homeless person apply for housing assistance?

Yes, a homeless person can apply for housing assistance.

Many waiting lists also have preferences for homeless applicants, which would give them priority placement on a waiting list. However, offices have leeway in defining this preference, and the specific definition tends to vary greatly by each housing office. Some offices may require applicants to be currently living in a shelter, some do not consider persons who are living with friends or family homeless, and others have much lighter requirements. Because of this flexibility, contact the office you apply through to confirm the definition of the Homeless preference.

You can use the search bar on the top of this page to search for housing authority and apartment community contact information.


Can a single person apply?

Yes, anyone can apply, including single persons.

This may be confusing, since HUD's general term for a household is a "family." However, a family can consist of one person.


Can I apply on my own, even if I currently live with other people?

Yes, you can apply on your own, even if you currently live with other people.

If you are applying to an affordable housing program on your own, you may apply as a single-person household. Sometimes you will see the word "family" be used, but in regards to housing assistance programs, a "family" can consist of one person.

When writing in the members of the household on your application, do not name the persons you are currently living with. This section is to name persons who will be living in the household while receiving assistance.


Can part-time workers qualify?

Yes, part-time workers qualify, as long as their income meets the required income limit.

When calculating income, your qualification depends on the entire household's income, just not your own. For example, if you only work part-time, but live with someone who works full-time, your combined income must fall under the income limit for a two-person household.


I moved away and lost my housing assistance. Now that I have moved back, can I get it again?

Technically, yes, but by moving away, your previous housing assistance was terminated. You may receive housing assistance again, but you may not simply re-open your previous file. You must apply again as a new applicant.

Also, the waiting list must be open for you to apply. If it is not open, search for nearby open waiting lists.


I was denied for having a marijuana charge on my record. If I move to a state where marijuana is legal, will I be eligible?

Since the charge is already on your record, it will be considered, so your eligibility is determined by the housing office's policy on how it treats marijuana use.

Drug-related criminal charges on one's record is a major issue that can affect your eligibility for housing assistance. Since HUD has given significant latitude to housing authorities to determine for themselves how to treat drug related charges, a housing authority in one city could enforce completely different standards than a housing authority not far away. That can be good or bad, depending on the policies and positions of housing authorities and their staff.

Fortunately, there has been some scholarly research on various approaches employed by different housing authorities and the types and age of offenses considered. In the paper "Alcohol, Drug, and Criminal History Restrictions in Public Housing" by Marah A. Curtis, as published in 2013 in HUD's publication Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research, it has been noted that nearly all housing authorities institute more stringent bans than required by federal law, and that individual housing authorities exercise a wide discretion in setting ban lengths and defining individual problematic behavior. As a result, similar households may encounter radically different rules when attempting to access or retain housing assistance.

This study found among 40 housing authorities surveyed, 37 mention bans based on illegal drug activity. Twenty-two identified no specific ban length, eight mention ban lengths of 1 to 2 years, 14 mention bans of 3 to 5 years, two mention bans of 6 to 10 years, and none mention lifetime bans. These bans and their lengths are affected by additional charges such as intent to distribute or manufacturing. Additionally, whether you were evicted from public or private housing could also extend the period of time a housing authority may decide to issue a ban for. To see a table showing the various levels of criminal charges and how these 40 surveyed public housing authorities addressed bans, see Exhibit 1 on page 7 of this PDF.

We are not aware of any housing offices that has made a significant policy change after marijuana became legal in the state, but it is possible that some offices have lightened their restrictions. Since there is no specific policy a housing office must follow, we recommend you speak to the office you apply through to learn their specific requirements. You can use the search bar on the top of this page to search for housing authority and apartment community contact information.


I'm unable to work due to my age/disability. Can I qualify for the working preference?

Yes, persons who are unable to work due to their age or disability also qualify for the working preference.


Does HUD help veterans with housing?

Yes, there has been an effort over the last few years to assist veterans in need of housing assistance.

The most well known form of housing assistance for veterans is the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) Voucher program. It operates just like the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, but is designated only for homeless veterans. More information about the VASH Voucher program can be found here.

Also, many waiting lists have preferences for applicants, which gives eligible applicants priority placement on the waiting list. Many waiting lists have preferences for veteran applicants. Generally, the person must be honorably discharged from any branch of the United States Armed Forces. Some waiting lists allow widows and families of veterans to qualify for this preference.

According to this joint-press release from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), from 2010 to 2014, veteran homelessness declined by 33%.


How can I be assured that I will be placed on the waiting list?

Because of the high demand of affordable housing, and comparatively low supply, there is no guarantee that you will be placed on a waiting list, even if you qualify. To have the greatest chance of being placed on a waiting list, your best option is to apply to as many open waiting lists as you like.

As you continue to submit applications, it is important to keep a record of the waiting lists you applied to, so you have all important application information all in one place. This information may include a confirmation number, or log in information if the application was online.

Some housing offices place applicants on the waiting list by date and time of the application's submission, so you may also want to target scheduled waiting list openings that sort applicants by date and time, and plan to be one of the first to apply.

Also, many waiting lists have preferences that place qualified applicants higher on the waiting list than general applicants. While qualifying for a preference will not guarantee that you get placed on the waiting list, it may help in some scenarios. For example, sometimes waiting lists open with limited spots available. Upwards of 1,000 people may apply to a waiting list that only has 100 open spots. So, if the waiting list has preferences, and more than 100 people who qualify for these preferences apply, all 100 spots would go to persons who qualify for the preferences. Any applicant who does not have any preferences would not be placed on the waiting list.

With all that being said, none of those strategies matter if you do not follow the instructions on the application. Another way to give you the best possible chance of being placed on the waiting list is to make sure all required information has been put on the application, and that it is submitted appropriately. Sometimes housing offices will return incomplete applications, but others will simply throw them away. It may also be thrown away if it is submitted incorrectly. For example, if the application is online only, paper applications would not be accepted.


If I am already in an affordable housing program, can I apply to another?

Yes, you can apply to any affordable housing program, even if you are currently receiving rental assistance by another program.

Once your name reaches the top of the waiting list, you must make a decision on whether to accept the new program, or stay on the program you are currently on. You may not receive rental assistance by two HUD programs at the same time.


How do I find housing assistance with a disability?

There are many federal housing resources available to persons with disabilities. These include affordable rental housing and supportive services to help disabled persons maintain independence and involvement in the community.

The Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program provides affordable apartment communities for low-income disabled persons. These properties are owned by private management companies or an individual private owner, which are often nonprofit organizations. Apartments at these properties have rental assistance attached to them, so that program participants pay 30% of their net income for rent. These developments serving disabled persons also often include supportive services allowing residents to live independently in the community.

Other federal affordable housing programs have provisions allowing Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) and property owners to designate units or properties solely for non-elderly disabled or senior occupancy. Public Housing, Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and U.S. Department of Agriculture Section 515 programs all allow units to be set aside for disabled people and seniors.

For an in-depth explanation of housing resources for disabled persons, please read our Housing for Persons with Disabilities Guide here.


How do I find housing assistance for seniors?

There are many federal housing resources available to seniors. These include affordable rental housing and supportive services to help seniors maintain independence for as long as possible.

The Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly program provides affordable apartment communities for seniors. These properties are owned by private management companies or an individual private owner, often nonprofit organizations. Apartments at these properties have rental assistance attached to them, so that program participants pay 30% of their net income for rent. These senior developments also often include supportive services allowing residents to live independently much longer with a greater quality of life.

Other federal affordable housing programs have provisions allowing Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) and property owners to designate units or properties solely for non-elderly disabled or senior occupancy. Public Housing, Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and U.S. Department of Agriculture Section 515 programs all allow units to be set aside for disabled people and seniors.

For an in-depth explanation of housing resources for seniors, please read our Housing for Seniors Guide here.