What is Public Housing?

The HUD Public Housing assistance program was established to provide safe, decent and  sanitary rental housing for eligible low-income families. It is often referred to as Low Rent; it allows low income families to rent an apartment at a low cost.  These apartments are owned by the Housing Authority.

How Do I Apply?

Openings on the waiting list for the Public Housing program will be announced through public notice. The public notice will be published in the local newspaper and posted on the website. It will state where, when, and how to apply.

If your name is already on the waiting list, you do not need to take any action. The PHA will maintain your name, date and time you applied. You are still required to update your personal information by submitting changes in writing. All applicants have the right to accept or decline housing assistance offer. Applicants who decline two offers will be withdrawn from the waiting list.

The Public Housing program Waiting List is currently OPEN.

Who is Eligible?

Public housing is limited to low-income families and individuals. A Housing Authority determines your eligibility based on:

  • annual gross income
  • whether you qualify as elderly, a person with a disability, or as a family
  • U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status

If you are eligible, the Housing Authority will check your references to make sure you and your family will be good tenants. The PHA will deny admission to any applicant whose habits and practices may be expected to have a detrimental effect on other tenants or on the project’s environment.

The PHA uses income limits developed by HUD. HUD sets the lower income limits at 80% and very low income limits at 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area in which you choose to live. The Income limits vary from area to area so you may be eligible at one Housing Authority but not at another.

How does the Application Process Work?

The Housing Authority will need to collect the following information to determine eligibility:

  • Names of all persons who would be living in the unit, their gender, date of birth and relationship to the family head.
  • Your present address and telephone number.
  • Family characteristics (e.g., veteran) or circumstances (e.g., living in substandard housing) that might qualify the family for tenant selection preferences.
  • Names and addresses of your current and previous landlords for information about your family’s suitability as a tenant.
  • An estimate of your family’s anticipated income for the next twelve months and the sources of that income.
  • The names and addresses of employers, banks, and any other information the Housing Authority would need to verify your income and deductions, and to verify the family composition.

After obtaining this information, the PHA representative will describe the public housing program and its requirements, and answer any questions you might have.

Will I Need to Provide Any Documentation?

Yes, the PHA representative will request whatever documentation is needed (e.g., birth certificates, tax returns) to verify the information given on your application. The PHA will also rely on direct verification from your employer, etc. You will be asked to sign a form to authorize release of pertinent information to the PHA.

When Will I be Informed?

The PHA will provide written notification. If the Housing Authority determines that you are eligible, your name will be put on a waiting list, unless the Housing Authority is able to assist you immediately. Once your name has reached the top of the waiting list, the PHA will contact you. If it is determined that you are ineligible, the Housing Authority must say why and, if you wish, you can request an informal hearing.

Will I Have to Sign a Lease?

If you are offered an apartment and accept it, you will have to sign a lease with the PHA. You will be required to give the PHA a security deposit. You and the PHA representative will go over the lease together. This will give you a better understanding of your responsibilities as a tenant and the PHA’s responsibilities as a landlord.

How is Rent Determined?

Your rent, which is referred to as the Total Tenant Payment (TTP) in this program, would be based on your family’s anticipated gross annual income less deductions, if any. HUD regulations allow the PHA’s to exclude from annual income the following allowances: $480 for each dependent; $400 for any elderly family, or a person with a disability; and some medical deductions for families headed by an elderly person or a person with disabilities.

Based on your application, the Housing Authority representative will determine if any of the allowable deductions should be subtracted from your annual income. Annual income is the anticipated total income from all sources received from the family head and spouse, and each additional member of the family 18 years of age or older.

The formula used in determining the TTP is the highest of the following, rounded to the nearest dollar:

  • 30 percent of the monthly adjusted income (Monthly Adjusted Income is annual income less deductions allowed by the regulations)
  • 10 percent of monthly income
  • $50 minimum rent set by the Pharr Housing Authority

What is the Role of the Housing Authority?

A Housing Authority is responsible for the management and operation of its local public housing program. They may also operate other types of housing programs.

  • On-going functions
  • Assure compliance with leases. The lease must be signed by both parties.
  • Set other charges (e.g., security deposit, excess utility consumption, and damages to unit).
  • Perform periodic reexaminations of the family’s income at least once every 12 months.
  • Transfer families from one unit to another, in order to correct over/under crowding, repair or renovate a dwelling, or because of a resident’s request to be transferred.
  • Terminate leases when necessary.
  • Maintain the development in a decent, safe, and sanitary condition.
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