Frequently Asked Public Housing Questions

Can I smoke in my apartment?

Under HUD regulations, smoking cigarettes, cigars or pipes will not be allowed in apartments, public areas or within 25 feet of Public Housing buildings. At this time the smoking ban does not apply to e-cigarettes, nor to HUD properties that participate in housing programs other than Public Housing.

You may or may not be able to smoke in your affordable housing unit; depending on the policy of the housing authority, property management company, or landlord that manages your unit.

  • Public Housing residents may not smoke on premises as of July 31, 2018. More information about that ruling can be found here.
  • If you are a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher tenant, that policy is set by your landlord. The smoking policy should be identified on your lease.
  • For other housing programs, some housing agencies let its residents smoke, while others do not. The smoking policy should be identified on your lease for these programs, as well.

If a housing agency does have a no-smoking policy, there may be designated smoking areas outside. Also, it's important to note that no-smoking policies do not mean that residents who smoke will be evicted. But they will be not be allowed to smoke on premise.

Contact the housing authority, property management company, or landlord that manages your unit to confirm the smoking policy. You can use the search bar at the top of this page to search for housing authority and apartment community contact information.


How long are affordable housing waiting lists?

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. However, an apartment community's waiting list is usually shorter than a Section 8 or Public Housing waiting list. There may also be an instance in which there is no waiting list, but those opportunities are rare, and applicants must still go through an approval process.

Contact the housing authority or apartment community you applied through to find out its policy on how to find out your status on its waiting list. The method of how to find out your status varies by each office. Please keep in mind that some offices are not able to provide your specific position on the waiting list, but can confirm if you are currently on the waiting list.

If the office cannot state your specific position on the waiting list, the representative may be able to confirm the date they are currently pulling applications from. For example, if you applied in January 2016, and the office is pulling applicants who applied in January 2013, you likely still have a long wait for assistance.

If you applied through a housing authority, and the office cannot provide information on your current wait time, 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. Unfortunately, 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 would like to apply to, please contact the appropriate housing authority or apartment community.

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


The Section 8 and/or Public Housing waiting lists in my area are closed. Are there other affordable housing programs?

If the waiting list is closed in the area you want to apply in, you cannot apply at that time, but there may be other programs available other than Section 8 HCV and Public Housing. Housing authorities often provide additional housing programs. You can also search our website for your area of interest, and scroll down to the list of affordable housing communities that may have other programs available. Please contact the housing authority or apartment community for more information.


Is there a universal nationwide waiting list for Section 8 and Public Housing?

There is no universal nationwide waiting list for any affordable housing program.

Section 8 and Public Housing waiting lists are managed by Public Housing Authorities, which serve a specific jurisdiction at the local level, whether it is on a city or county-wide basis. There are very few housing authorities that manage a waiting list for an entire state, and if they do, there tends to be a separate waiting list for each county. The only single state-wide Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher waiting list we are aware of is the Massachusetts Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Centralized Waiting List; but not all housing authorities in the state are participants and manage their own waiting list instead.

You can find information on how to apply to open Section 8 waiting lists nationwide here, and open Public Housing waiting lists here.