Public Housing Explained: Comparison with Section 8 Vouchers

Public Housing Explained: Comparison with Section 8 Vouchers

(and comprehensive comparison to Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers)

If you’re in need of affordable housing, you might be weighing the pros and cons of public housing versus Section 8 housing choice vouchers. Both options offer low-income families a place to call home, but they differ in various ways.

  • In this article, we’ll dive into the details of public housing, including how to apply, how to get approved, the benefits and potential drawbacks. We’ll also briefly touch on the differences and pros and cons of public housing versus Section 8 housing choice vouchers.

What is Public Housing?

A federally financed program called public housing offers low-cost housing to qualified low-income families, senior citizens, and people with disabilities. Public housing is administered by regional public housing agencies (PHAs), which are under the direction of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

How to Apply for Public Housing

To apply for public housing, you’ll need to contact your local PHA and complete an application to your local Public Housing Agency (PHA) [Contact info]. Keep in mind that there might be a waiting list for public housing, so it’s important to apply as soon as possible. Below are the steps to contacting your PHA offices to begin your application online.

  • Click here to go to the HUD PHA website.
  1. Select your state from the map.
  2. Select the PHA office nearest to you to begin your application. Start in your Zip Code. You may be able to apply to more than one PHA office. Note: PHA office can also be referred to as a Housing Authority (HA)
  3. Search the name of the PHA office to find their website.
  4. Apply Online. A majority of PHA offices are overwhelmed with applicants. Most have moved their application process online and will only accept applications online. HUD doesn’t include links to the PHA website, You will need to google search that name of the PHA office to find their website.
  5. You may try calling and emailing as well.
  6. Be persistent and follow up on your application, check emails for updates from the PHA about your application and notify the PHA if your change any of your contact info after applying.

How to Get Approved for Public Housing

Public housing has strict income guidelines that applicants must meet. Your income must be below 80% of the median income for your area, and in some cases, below 50% of the median income. You’ll also need to pass a criminal background check and provide proof of citizenship or eligible immigration status.

It is possible to get Public Housing approval if you have a criminal record but will be something you will need to discuss with your PHA. For more help on calculating your Household income click here

Benefits of Public Housing

One of the primary benefits of public housing is its affordability. You won’t ever be required to pay more rent than you can afford because rent is typically based on your income. Furthermore, public housing is frequently situated in areas that are convenient and safe, with simple access to local services and public transportation.

Compared to Section 8 Vouchers, the application process is simpler. Public Housing may be a better option for those who have applied to Section 8 and have not been approved.

Public Housing may be the best or only option for applicants with poor credit, evictions history, criminal background history, or any other factors that may make them a less desirable tenant. We will explain why in the following paragraph.

Drawbacks of Section 8 and Public Housing

Some public housing complexes have a negative reputation for crime or poor maintenance. However, these are not facts for all Public Housing units. We recommend that you check with your PHA and investigate the potential units and areas you will be applying to.

We will admit that a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher seems to be more desirable due to the fact that you get to choose your own home. But choosing your own home is a luxury that it comes with more responsibilities: please make note that Section 8 Vouchers require a extensive application process by the PHA.

After approval from the PHA it may be a challenge for you to find a landlord to accept your Voucher. If you find a landlord who accepts your voucher, you will then have to pass the landlord’s application process, which will typically be as any leasing application and agreement.

You may find it more challenging to move into your home with a Section 8 voucher if you have very poor credit, a criminal background, a history of evictions (especially from other rental assistance programs), or a variety of other issues that may make you a less desirable tenant.

These can all be reasons for the landlord to deny your application. This is why we suggest applying to both Public Housing and Section 8 if you truly need rental assistance. Applying to more than one assistance program could help increase your odds of getting assistance. Confirm with you PHA office before applying.

Applying for Public Housing FAQs

  1. Q: Can I apply for public housing if I’m not a U.S. citizen? A: Yes, as long as you have eligible immigration status, you can apply for public housing.
  2. Q: How much would my monthly public housing rent be? A: Rent is typically based on your income and will not exceed 30% of your adjusted monthly income.
  3. Q: Can I bring my pet to public housing? A: It depends on the specific public housing complex. Some allow pets, while others do not.
  4. Q: Can you apply for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers and Public Housing at the same time? A: It is indeed possible to submit applications for both Section 8 housing choice vouchers and public housing. However, you can only receive assistance from one program at a time. If you receive a voucher, you cannot also live in public housing, and vice versa. It is imperative to carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of every alternative and select the one that most appropriately aligns with your requirements.
  5. Q: Can a felon get approval for Public Housing? A: It is possible for a felon to get approval for public housing, but it really varies depending on how serious the crime was and how long ago the conviction happened. Each housing authority has its own policies regarding criminal history, so it’s best to check with the specific authority for their guidelines.

Public Housing Versus Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers

While public housing is a great option for some families, others might prefer Section 8 housing choice vouchers. Here are some of the differences between the two and what we think the Pros and Cons are:

Public Housing

  • Rent is typically based on your income
  • Units are owned and managed by local PHAs
  • Potential for a long waiting list
  • May be located in less desirable areas
  • Once approved by PHA you can move in. No further rental application, credit check

Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers

  • Rent is based on your income and the cost of the unit
  • Units are privately owned and managed
  • the most popular rental assistance program, longest waiting lists and lowest resources
  • More flexibility in choosing a location
  • You will need to find a landlord to accept your voucher and have to pass their background and credit check application process.

Ultimately, the decision between public housing versus Section 8 housing choice vouchers will depend on your individual needs and preferences. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons carefully and explore both options before making a decision.

In conclusion, public housing is a great option for low-income families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities who are in need of affordable housing. By understanding the application process, eligibility requirements, benefits, and potential drawbacks, you can make an informed decision about whether public housing is the right choice for you.

If you’re interested in applying for public housing, you can find your local Public Housing Agency (PHA) through the HUD website. Contact your local PHA to learn about the application process and availability in your area.

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