Getting into Public Housing

Authored By: Legal Services Alabama


This article tells you how you can try to get into public housing. It also gives your rights if you are denied public housing. It tells you about your rent if you get public housing.

Can I get Public Housing?

  • If you have a low income, you may be eligible.

How do I apply?

  • Call your local housing authority. You will probably have to go to their office to apply.

What do I need when I apply?

  • Most housing authorities make you show a picture ID.
  • If you do not have a driver's license, you may need to get a non-driver ID.
  • You will also need proof of your income.
  • In addition, you must cooperate with the housing authority by signing releases to let them look into whether you are eligible.

What could keep me from getting Public Housing?

  • A housing authority can deny you if
    • you have a criminal record, or
    • someone in your household has a criminal record, or
    • you have bad landlord references, or
    • you owe money to the Housing Authority, or
    • you were evicted from public housing within the last year.
  • A housing authority may also deny you if it thinks you are abusing drugs or alcohol.
  • Sometimes you may be denied for extremely poor credit.
  • The housing authority has to put its reasons for denying you in writing.
  • You have a right to a conference about the denial.

How much rent do I pay?

  • Your rent depends on your income and family size. You may pay one quarter of your income.
  • Even if you do not have much income, most housing authorities charge a small amount of minimum rent each month. If you can't pay this, you may be able to get a hardship exception.
  • If you get work through the JOBS program, you should report this to the PHA right away.
    • The housing authority cannot increase your rent for the first year you work.
    • After that, they will only count half your income the second year.
    • If you do not follow JOBS program rules, you can lose this benefit.
  • If you get a job after going a year without working, you get the same benefits.
  • The housing authority figures utility costs when deciding what you pay in rent.
    • The housing authority has a utility allowance for each apartment.
    • If your rent is less than the utility allowance, you get a utility check each month.
    • The housing authority will pay some money toward your utilities directly.

Reviewed May 2010 offers legal information, not legal advice. This website provides information on your rights and options. However, the site does not apply the law to your personal facts. For legal advice, you should call a lawyer. To apply for free legal services in Alabama, call the Legal Services Alabama office that is closest to where you live OR call toll-free 1-866-456-4995. You can also apply online HERE.

Last Review and Update: May 06, 2010
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