Public Housing Program

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Public Housing Program was established to provide decent and safe rental housing for eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.   Projects vary in type from scattered site townhomes to high rise apartments for the elderly.   HUD administers Federal aid to PHAs 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 developments.  There are approximately 1.2 million households living in public housing units, managed by some 3,300 local Public Housing Agencies (PHAs). 

Since the demand for housing assistance often exceeds the limited resources available to HUD and the local housing agencies, long waiting periods are common.  In fact, a PHA may close its waiting list when it has more families on the list than can be assisted in the near future.   PHAs may establish local preferences for selecting applicants from its waiting list. For example, PHAs may give a preference to a family who is (1) homeless or living in substandard housing, (2) paying more than 50% of its income for rent, or (3) involuntarily displaced.  Families who qualify for any such local preference move ahead of other families on the list who do not qualify for the preference. Each PHA has the discretion to establish local preferences to reflect the housing needs and priorities of its particular community.

View the program website

Eligible Applicants:

PHAs are eligible to receive funding for the development and operation of public housing.

Eligible Beneficiaries:

Public housing is limited to low-income families and individuals.  A PHA determines eligibility based on: 1) annual gross income; 2) whether an applicant qualifies as elderly, a person with a disability, or as a family; and 3) U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status.

Individuals interested in applying for public housing should contact their local PHA.

Funding Mechanism:

HUD allocates PHAs two major forms of subsidy:  the operating fund and the capital fund.  PHAs may also seek additional funds for public housing through a competitive process. For example, in recent years there has been competitive funding for Family Self Sufficiency coordinators and Resident Opportunity and Self Sufficiency (ROSS) grants.  In addition, a PHA may receive special funding through special congressional earmarks.