Public Housing: Definition, Eligibility, and Application Process

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Public Housing: Definition, Eligibility, and Application Process

The Housing and Urban Development (HUD) established a housing program to provide a safe and decent rental space. Public housing is defined as accommodation offered to people with a low income or those unable to fully fend for themselves.

Apart from low-income earning families, HUD also considers the elderly and people with disabilities. Approximately 970,000 households in the US live in public housing units. The number is bound to go higher as more people continue to apply for the assistance program. The application process is tedious and lengthy. However, DoNotPay helps you apply for the Section 8 housing assistance program without a hassle, saving you from eviction anxiety.

What Are the Qualifying Criteria for Section 8 Housing Program?

HUD supports low-income earning individuals and families by granting housing choice vouchers (HCV) Section 8 to people who meet specific criteria. 

The following are the four basic criteria that one must meet to be considered for the program.

1. Family StatusTo receive the Section 8 housing program, you must meet the HUD definition of a family. The Housing and Urban Department has set some general guidelines on what defines a family in need of assistance.

However, the HUD has allowed some flexibility by giving each Public Housing Authority (PHA) different family criteria. Ensure to contact your local PHA to determine the family status qualification.

The participating family must meet the following conditions to be eligible for the program:

  • Have a family member aged 62 years and above
  • With or without children
  • Been displaced
  • A single individual who has none of the above requirements
2. Income LevelSection 8 program is meant to help families with low income. Each state calculates its income depending on the area's median income, making the level of income differ from state to state.

In addition, the income limits differ depending on the number of people in a household. An individual or household should meet either of the following three levels to be considered for the housing choice voucher.

  • Extremely low-income families earn at least 30% of the area's median income level
  • Very low-income families earn at least 50% of the area's median income level.
  • Low-income families earn up to  80% of the area's median income level

To determine the eligibility for Section 8 program, HUD calculates the family's yearly income based on the sources provided. The sources include:

  • Retirement Fund
  • Child Support
  • Welfare
  • Disability
  • Salary
  • Overtime Pay
  • Worker's Compensation
  • Lottery Winnings
  • Commission
  • Tips
  • Alimony
  • Unemployment
  • Interest or Dividends From Assets
  • Pension
3. Citizenship StatusThe HUD department awards American citizens and those with eligible immigrant status the voucher program.

The Public Housing Authority officer will require American citizens to fulfill the following:

  • Sign a declaration form proving that you and all of your family members are American citizens
  • Provide a valid US document that proves your claim like a social security card or a US passport

For the eligible immigrants, the PHA officer will:

  • Ask you to sign a declaration stating that your immigrant documents are legal and valid
  • Request for an Immunization and Naturalization Service (INS) document to prove your status
  • Verify the provided information with INS
  • Request you to sign a form that gives the officer consent to use your information

Mixed families with eligible and non-eligible individuals can still receive housing assistance, but the amount allocated is determined by the percentage of the eligible members.

4. Eviction HistoryA Section 8 voucher is not granted to anyone with:

  • Criminal history for the past five years and the criminal record has been the cause of the eviction from a property
  • A conviction for methamphetamine (meth) production while at an assisted housing project.

How to Apply for Section 8 Housing Program on Your Own

Since public housing is defined as help for those in need, one must provide the agency with the necessary information on the assets, family income, and the size of the family to apply for the program. The information acquired by the agency is used to determine the family's or individual's program eligibility.

1. Locate Your Local Public Housing Agency

Visit the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) department to locate your local Public Housing Agency. The website has categorized the PHA's by city, zip code, and state, including the agency's connecting contacts.

2. Confirm Your Eligibility

The agent will assist you by asking you some questions that will enable you to understand if you are eligible for the program or not. In general, you need to be over 18 years, a US citizen or legal immigrant, and belong to a household with less than 50% income.

3. Inquire About the PHA's Preferences or Restrictions

Some PHA agents give more priority to a section of the applicants who will receive assistance before the others, such as homeless people, the elderly, or the disabled. If you fall in one of the categories, alert the agent to reduce your waiting time on the list.

4. Get the Application Form for the Program

Depending on the PHA, the forms can be accessed online, at the local authority's office, or via mail. The application process is entirely free.

5. Fill in and Complete the Application Request

Follow the instructions provided on the form keenly to ensure the form is filled in accordingly. Some of the information you will be requested to submit include;

  • Full names
  • Date of birth
  • Criminal history
  • Social security number
  • Housing history
  • Emailing and mailing address
  • Phone number

6. Submit Your Application

Turn in your application before the due date to reduce the risk of rejection. Follow the guidelines provided on how to send the filled form.

7. Be Patient and Wait for PHA to Process Your Application

The process can take a few months to be concluded. Once processed, you will receive an alert by mail or on their online portal for the rejection or placement notice.

How to Apply for Section 8 Housing Program With the Help of DoNotPay

The application process is long, with several documents constantly being needed. You can easily feel overwhelmed and give up on the process. Luckily, DoNotPay can help you apply for the housing program using the following simple steps

  1. Answer a few questions about your income, family size, veteran/disability status, which county you hope to live in, etc.


  2. DoNotPay will find the PHA in charge of that county and contact them with all of your eligibility information to determine if you can start applying. They'll get back to you directly via email with the next steps.


What Else Does DoNotPay Offer?

Besides providing you with an easy solution for applying for the section 8 housing assistance program, we offer a series of many other solutions. Some of the other significant tasks we can help you with include:

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