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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.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/The-Housing-Office-Told-Me-I-Didnt-Qualify-And-I-Dont-Know-Why
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.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/Who-Qualifies-For-Affordable-Housing
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/Household-Income
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.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/what-does-an-income-limit-mean
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:
Once you know where you want to apply, begin your search for housing here:
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/Can-I-apply-anywhere-in-the-country
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.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/How-Does-My-Criminal-Record-Affect-Eligibility
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.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/How-Do-I-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.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/How-Old-Do-You-Have-To-Be-To-Apply
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/does-a-household-with-a-disabled-child-qualify-for-a-preference
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/What-Should-My-Credit-Score-Be-In-Order-To-Receive-Housing
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/If-You-Have-No-Income-Will-Places-Accept-Your-Application
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/If-I-Lost-My-Rental-Assistance-Can-I-Get-It-Again
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/Will-Slow-Rent-Payments-Or-An-Eviction-Keep-Me-From-Getting-Accepted?
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.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/Can-My-Mother-Pass-Down-Her-Assistance-To-Us
Each housing authority operates differently, so we cannot give you a definite answer.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/When-applying-can-I-submit-a-copy-of-a-document-instead-of-the-original?
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.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/Will-Child-And-Transportation-Expenses-Be-Deducted
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.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/If-You-Report-A-Change-In-Income-Will-They-Make-You-Move
Even if you are expecting an income change in the future, you must report the total gross income you are currently receiving.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/Would-I-Apply-Using-Current-Income-Or-Income-I-Will-Receive-After-Moving
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.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/If-Your-Income-Increases-Are-You-Still-Eligible-For-Affordable-Housing
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.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/The-property-manager-said-they-were-affordable-housing-but-charges-all-tenants-the-same
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.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/Am-I-Eligible-Green-Card
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.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/Are-You-Required-To-Be-Employed-To-Receive-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.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/Can-A-Homeless-Person-Apply-For-Housing-Assistance
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.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/Can-A-Single-Person-Apply
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.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/Can-I-Apply-On-My-Own
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.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/Can-Part-Time-Workers-Qualify
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.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/I-Lost-My-Housing-Because-I-Had-To-Move-Can-I-Get-It-Again
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.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/I-Was-Denied-Assistance-For-Having-A-Marijuana-Charge-If-I-Move-To-A-State-Where-Marijuana-Is-Legal-Will-I-Be-Eligible
Yes, persons who are unable to work due to their age or disability also qualify for the working preference.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/Im-unable-to-work-due-to-my-age-disability-Can-I-get-a-special-preference-for-waiting-lists-with-a-working-preference
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%.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/Does-HUD-help-veterans-with-housing
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.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/How-can-i-be-assured-that-i-will-be-placed-on-the-waiting-list
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.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/If-I-Am-In-A-Housing-Program-Can-I-Apply
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.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/how-to-find-disabled-housing
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.
For an in-depth explanation of housing resources for seniors, please read our Housing for Seniors Guide here.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/how-to-find-senior-housing
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