What is the Public Housing Program?

Photo of a happy couple smiling and looking at each other in front of a Public Housing hi-rise in an urban area.

Public Housing is the nation’s longest running affordable housing program. It is a low-income rental assistance program that provides rental units that allow renters to pay a portion of their monthly income for rent.

These units are available in developments, or smaller “Scattered Sites,” and are owned and operated by the area’s Public Housing Agencies (also known as housing authorities). And sometimes, another local agency will partner with a housing authority to operate the Public Housing program and waiting list on behalf of the housing authority.

Nationwide, all Public Housing programs are overseen by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

How does the Public Housing program work?

Because of high demand for Public Housing apartments, housing authorities operate waiting lists for applicants.

HUD gives its housing authorities flexibility to set their own rules for a waiting list opening. Because of this, application requirements can vary in different parts of the country. Still, the general process is the same among all of the housing authorities.

When applying for a Public Housing apartment, knowing what to expect can help reduce the stress of the application process. Follow our step-by-step guides to learn how to qualify and apply for Public Housing: