The term income restricted apartments refers to housing that is included in programs offered to low-income families, disabled individuals and the elderly. These programs are administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which allocates federal aid to local Public Housing Agencies. PHAs are charged with overseeing the process of applying for low-income housing as well as managing the properties. HUD provides support through a variety of programs that offer residency in public housing, subsidies or vouchers.
Public Housing Programs
Public housing is owned by local PHAs, which may direct property-management duties to private contractors. The types of public housing include apartments, multiunit dwellings and single-family homes. Eligibility for public housing is established through the determination of annual household earnings that are defined as low or very low income. Additional requirements include having a disability, being elderly or qualifying as a family. The last requirement is that applicants must be either U.S. citizens or have a qualifying immigration status.
The housing voucher program, also referred to as Section 8, supports qualifying low-income families, disabled and elderly people through the provision of vouchers that are used to cover a portion of monthly rent. The voucher represents the amount of money that will be paid directly to the owner of the property. The family or individual is responsible for paying the remaining balance. Recipients can elect to live in non-subsidized housing areas as long as they live within the area administered by the local PHA, the housing meets PHA standards and the owner/landlord agrees to the conditions of the voucher program.
Applying for a Program
Applications for getting housing assistance through either a Public Housing or Voucher/Section 8 Programs must be submitted at a PHA office in the city, town or area where you would like to find housing. The definition of low-income categories is set by HUD, which measures household earnings against the median income of the county or census area where residency is being sought. HUD defines low income as household earnings that are between 51 percent and 80 percent of the median income for the local area. Very low income is defined as being 50 percent or less than the local median income.
The limitation on the level of income required to qualify for assistance changes between areas due to differences in median incomes.
Finding and Applying for Housing
When a family or individual is approved for public housing, the PHA will find an appropriately sized home and no additional application is necessary. A family approved for Section 8/voucher housing must find and apply for their own housing. HUD offers a website with links for approved affordable housing options and participating owner/landlords. The local PHA office also can provide resources and assistance with finding affordable housing.