WHAT IS PUBLIC HOUSING?
Public housing was established to provide decent and safe rental
housing for eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons
with disabilities. Public housing comes in all sizes and types, from
scattered single family houses to highrise apartments for elderly
families. There are approximately 1.3 million households living in
public housing units, managed by some 3,300 HAs. The U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers Federal aid to
local housing agencies (HAs) that manage the housing for low-income
residents at rents they can afford. HUD furnishes technical and
professional assistance in planning, developing and managing these
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
Public housing is limited to low-income families and individuals. An
HA determines your eligibility based on: 1) annual gross income; 2)
whether you qualify as elderly, a person with a disability, or as a
family; and 3) U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status. If you
are eligible, the HA will check your references to make sure you and
your family will be good tenants. HAs will deny admission to any
applicant whose habits and practices may be expected to have a
detrimental effect on other tenants or on the project's environment.
HAs use income limits developed by HUD. HUD sets the lower income
limits at 80% and very low income limits at 50% of the median income
for the county or metropolitan area in which you choose to live.
Income limits vary from area to area so you may be eligible at one HA
but not at another. The HA serving your community can provide you with
the income levels for your area and family size, or you can also find
the income limits here on the internet.
HOW DOES THE APPLICATION PROCESS WORK?
The application must be written. Either you or the HA representative
will fill it out. An HA usually needs to collect the following
information to determine eligibility:
(1) Names of all persons who would be living in the unit, their sex,
date of birth, and relationship to the family head;
(2) Your present address and telephone number;
(3) Family characteristics (e.g., veteran) or circumstances (e.g.,
living in substandard housing) that might qualify the family for
tenant selection preferences;
(4) Names and addresses of your current and previous landlords for
information about your family's suitability as a tenant;
(5) An estimate of your family's anticipated income for the next
twelve months and the sources of that income;
(6) The names and addresses of employers, banks, and any other
information the HA would need to verify your income and deductions,
and to verify the family composition; and
(7) The PHA also may visit you in your home to interview you and your
family members to see how you manage the upkeep of you current home.
WILL I NEED TO PRODUCE ANY DOCUMENTATION?
Yes, the HA representative will request whatever documentation is
needed (e.g., birth certificates, tax returns) to verify the
information given on your application. The PHA will also rely on
direct verification from your employer, etc. You will be asked to sign
a form to authorize release of pertinent information to the PHA.
WHEN WILL I BE NOTIFIED?
The HA will provide written notification. If the HA determines that
you are eligible, your name will be put on a waiting list, unless the
HA is able to assist you immediately. Once your name is reached on the
waiting list, the HA will contact you. If it is determined that you
are ineligible, the HA will notify you in writing. If you
disagree with the denial, you may request an informal hearing.
WILL I HAVE TO SIGN A LEASE?
If you are offered an apartment and accept it, you will have to sign a
lease with the HA. You will have to give the HA a security deposit.
You and the HA representative should go over the lease together. This
will give you a better understanding of your responsibilities as a
tenant and the HA's responsibilities as a landlord.
ARE THERE ANY SELECTION PREFERENCES?
The HA gives preference to working and disabled families with
Each HA has the discretion to establish preferences to reflect needs
in its own community. These preferences will be included in the HAs
written policy manual. You should ask what preferences they honor so
you will know whether you qualify for a preference.
HOW IS RENT DETERMINED?
Your rent, which is referred to as the Total Tenant Payment (TTP) in
this program, would be based on your family's anticipated gross annual
income less deductions, if any. HUD regulations allow HAs to exclude
from annual income the following allowances: $480 for each dependent;
$400 for any elderly family, or a person with a disability; and some
medical deductions for families headed by an elderly person or a
person with disabilities. Based on your application, the HA
representative will determine if any of the allowable deductions
should be subtracted from your annual income. Annual income is the
anticipated total income from all sources received from the family
head and spouse, and each additional member of the family 18 years of
age or older.
The formula used in determining the TTP is the highest of the
following, rounded to the nearest dollar:
(1) 30 percent of the monthly adjusted income. (Monthly Adjusted
Income is annual income less deductions allowed by the regulations);
(2) 10 percent of monthly income;
(3) welfare rent, if applicable; or
(4) a $25 minimum rent or higher amount (up to $50) set by an HA.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE HA?
An HA is responsible for the management and operation of its local
public housing program.
(1) On-going functions: (a) Assure compliance with leases. The lease
must be signed by both parties; (b) Set other charges (e.g., security
deposit, excess utility consumption, and damages to unit); (c) Perform
periodic reexaminations of the family's income at least once every 12
months; (d) Transfer families from one unit to another, in order to
correct over/under crowding, repair or renovate a dwelling; (e)
Terminate leases when necessary; and (f) maintain the development in a
decent, safe, and sanitary condition.
HOW LONG CAN I STAY IN PUBLIC HOUSING?
In general, you may stay in public housing as long as you comply with
If, at reexamination your family's income is sufficient to obtain
housing on the private market, the HA may determine whether your
family should stay in public housing. You will not be required to move
unless there is affordable housing available for you on the private