Applying For Assistance

A PHA’s method of accepting and processing applications depends upon its particular circumstances. The following factors should be taken into consideration:

  • Number of families expected to apply 
  • Leasing rate and current and future availability of voucher assistance 
  • Size of the housing choice voucher program 
  • Number of applicants currently on the waiting list 
  • Staff availability and workload 
  • Administrative constraints  

Some PHAs may also have court orders, voluntary compliance agreements, or other mandatory directives to consider.  

The PHA must accept applications from families for whom the waiting list is open. Even when it is apparent to staff that a particular family may be found ineligible, any family requesting an application when the list is open must be allowed to apply. 

If in subsequent evaluations of the application, the household is found to be ineligible, the PHA must inform the family in writing of the reason for its ineligibility and of the family’s right to request an informal review.

Fair Housing Requirements

PHAs are required to make the application process accessible to elderly and disabled populations. The PHA’s application sitewhether in person or online, must be accessible, unless making it accessible would result in an undue financial or administrative burden. 

If the application site cannot be made accessible, the PHA must offer a reasonable accommodation that provides full access to the application process. 

If the method chosen does not accommodate the elderly or disabled populations, the PHA must make available an alternative application process for these populations. 

Examples of reasonable accommodations for the application process include but are not limited to: 

PHAs may use both traditional and non-traditional approaches to taking applications. PHAs may consider a mail-in application process, making home visits, a lottery or other random selection approach, accepting applications over the internet, printing an application in the local newspaper or developing an innovative approach that addresses local needs. 

Consideration should be made to simplify and/or optimize the application process so that it can be expedited to reduce the burden on families, particularly working families. 

Keep in mind, some approaches to taking applications result in a waiting list that is established based on date and time of application (first come, first served). In these instances, completing the application as early as possible is critical. 

When the method used is a lottery or other random selection process, the timing of application submission has no bearing on one’s position on the waiting list, as long as the application is submitted by the specified deadline.  

Processing Applications and Application Content

HUD does not mandate the format or content for a housing choice voucher application or the method for processing applications. 

Families wishing to participate in the housing choice voucher program must complete an application according to the method required by the PHA. 

The family should apply using a written application form and sign the form upon completion. 

Preliminary Application

Many PHAs opt to have applicants complete a streamlined, abbreviated pre-application form as the first step in the application process. 

The pre-application collects only the information that is required for placement of the family on the waiting list such as (there are 7):

Pre-applications are screened by PHA staff to determine initial eligibility and effectively screen out obviously ineligible applicants before placing them on the waiting list. 

If the PHA determines a family as ineligible, the PHA must notify the family in writing of the reasons for the determination and how the family may request an informal review.  

Use of the pre-application works best in situations where there will be a wait for assistance. This approach allows for expedient initial processing of the basic information required for the waiting list, screens out ineligible families so that when the full application is completed, the information collected is more accurate and timelier. 

Full Application

PHAs with no waiting list or a very short waiting list may opt to skip the pre-application and use only a full application form. The full application should provide the following:  

  • Information necessary to compute the family’s annual income. This includes identification of all sources of income and how amounts are paid (annually, bi-annually, quarterly, monthly, bi-monthly, bi-weekly, weekly, etc.) and all assets.  
  • Information necessary to determine allowances and adjusted income. This includes information related to the number of dependents, type of family, and any childcare, disability, or medical expenses (elderly families only).  
  • Information to determine family composition and family unit size requirements.  
  • Information related to qualification and verification of preferences. 
  • Name and address of current and previous owner.  
  • Identification of persons with disabilities and special housing needs. 
  • Information on previous evictions from federally assisted housing.  
  • Information on arrests for use of controlled substances and activities related to abuse of alcohol and violent criminal activity.  
  • Information on any screening required by PHA policy.  
  • Statistical information for reporting/tracking purposes, such as race, ethnicity, household size, housing status.  
  • A certification that the information provided is accurate and complete.