Frequently Asked Housing Authority Questions

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.

How can I find out the area the housing authority serves?

You can find out the area the housing authority serves on its Annual Plan, on Affordable Housing Online, and sometimes on the housing authority's website. You can also call the housing authority and ask a representative to confirm their jurisdiction.

Each housing authority serves a specific, city (or cities), county (or counties), or the entire state. The area served is its jurisdiction. Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher holders participating in that housing authority's program may only use their voucher within its jurisdiction.

This information can be found on the top of all housing authority pages on Affordable Housing Online. Under the "About Housing Authority" section, you will see the line "The Housing Authority serves..." Those areas are the housing authority's jurisdiction. You can confirm this information with the housing authority.

Many housing authority websites display this information, weather it's on the home page, "About Us" page, or Section 8 program. If the jurisdiction cannot be found, search for the Annual Plan document. This document will state the jurisdiction, and may be found on any of the web pages mentioned above. If this information cannot be found online, contact the housing authority.

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

Is a resident of the housing authority allowed to serve on its board of directors?

Yes, in fact, having at least one resident on the housing authority's board is required by law, with a few exceptions.

According to CFR 24, Subtitle B, Chapter IX, Part 964, Subpart E; there are a few scenarios in which a housing authority is not required to have a resident on its board of directors (sometime also referred to as the board of commissioners):

  • If the housing authority is located in a state that requires the members of its board to work full time with salary pay.
  • If the housing authority does not have a governing board.
A housing authority may also be exempt from this requirement if it has less than 300 Public Housing units, but only if it meets one of the following conditions:

  1. The housing authority has published a notice to the resident advisory board to inform residents of the opportunity, and there was no response by a resident in 30 days. This notice must be published yearly.
  2. The housing authority only offers the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, and not the Public Housing program.

When inspecting the house, what do the inspectors have a right to check? Do they have a right to look in your cupboards, refrigerators or even your stove or oven? Or is that an invasion of privacy?

When an inspector comes to assess your unit, they are making sure the house is in good physical condition. Inspectors look at the structure of the unit, whether there is mold or other contaminants, and if there are insects or other animals invading the unit. What an inspector checks has to be related to these factors. They will not open your purse, cupboards, or other personal items, unless it has something to do with the above factors.

Contact the housing authority that manages your unit for further clarification on what may or may not be inspected. You can search our website for housing authority contact information.

What are the requirements to be a Section 8 landlord? Are housing quality standards uniform throughout the country?

This page on HUD's website is a good place to start to learn about being a landlord. The housing quality standards for the Section 8 program are uniform across the country however, since they are interpreted and enforced by thousands of different housing authorities and inspectors, there are large discrepancies in standards from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. To view HUD's standard quality standards, go here. You should be prepared for different interpretation by different housing authorities and even different inspectors within the same housing authority.