Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Public Housing

In this article...
  • HUD's Public Housing Program provides low-income Americans with affordable residences through local housing authorities. Find out whether you're eligible.
Young mother and father smile with small child on house front steps

The U.S. government has numerous departments and programs in place to assist low-income Americans with rent, homeownership and meals.

One of these initiatives is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Public Housing Program, which connects Americans who can't usually afford rent with apartments and homes.

How Does the HUD's Public Housing Program Work?

The HUD housing program distributes federal aid to local housing authorities, which then uses those funds to give local families homes and apartments at a reduced rental rate.

There are numerous types of federal housing, including single-family homes, high-rise apartments and multifamily homes.

The public housing program was first created in 1937. Local authorities own and manage the properties spread throughout the United States.

Who Is Eligible?

Low-income families and individuals are eligible for HUD's Public Housing Program. Financial eligibility takes into account the median income in the family's area and whether or not the family's gross annual income is lower than that median.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development typically sets a low income as 80% of the median and a very low income as 50% of the median in your county or area. Rent for families in public housing is typically 30% of their income.

Immigration status is also considered, as well as the status of the applicant as a family, older adult or person with disabilities. If you're eligible, HUD will also check the references you provide to determine whether or not you may be a detriment to the other tenants or the property.

Only good tenants with a reputable past will usually be eligible.

What Does The Application Entail?

HUD's Public Housing Program requires all prospective tenants to fill out an application.

This application includes information on all prospective tenants, their relationship to the family head, the family's or individual's income, family characteristics, prospective income and other personal information.

Who Should I Contact for Assistance?

Your local housing authority can help you apply for HUD housing assistance. Contact your local public housing agency to learn about eligibility, or find the contact information for the HUD field office closest to you.

You can also visit the federal government's income limits page to learn about the financial qualifications in your area. Be sure to contact your bank, previous employers and former landlords for any needed documentation as well.

According to HUD, there are about 1.2 million households in America that live in public housing. The HUD's Public Housing Program is in place to help these families and yours find affordable housing.

If you need assistance with finding an affordable rental, reach out to your housing authority or regional HUD office.