Updated February 2017 Fact Sheet PDF
“Public housing” is housing funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and managed by local housing authorities. These programs provide housing to low-income people, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Public housing is just one of many types of housing covered by HUD (search portal.hud.gov for “rental assistance”).
Only low-income people can live in public housing. A household income must be less than 80% of the average income for the area. However, exact income limits will vary based on where you live. Tenants in HUD-covered housing must be citizens or documented immigrants unless they are victims of domestic violence.
Most tenants in public housing pay 30% of their monthly adjusted incomes in rent. However, housing authorities can charge you the highest amount of the following that applies to you in rent.
- 30% of your monthly adjusted income (your income minus deductions for dependents, elderly family members, people with disabilities in the home, and some medical expenses)
- 10% of your total monthly income
- welfare rent
- a $25-50 minimum rent per month
You should contact your local housing authority to apply for public housing. You can use the interactive map from HUD, found at resources.hud.gov, to find public housing and other affordable housing programs near you.
These applications generally ask for names, basic information about your household, contact information, rental history, and an estimate of your annual income and other financial income. A housing authority employee might visit your home during the application process.
Denying Your Application
A housing authority might deny your application for any of the following reasons:
- poor housekeeping
- non-payment of past-due rent
- a poor credit history
- a criminal record that shows you might be a risk to other tenants
You may go on a waiting list if there are no units available when you apply. Housing authorities can move people up the waiting list based on its preferences. Preferences might include factors such as employment, stable income, or recent homelessness.