Waiting List Maintenance

The data collected and stored within the waiting list should contain sufficient information and be organized in a manner to allow the PHA to properly select families who are eligible for a housing choice voucher according to the selection policy described in the administrative plan. 

The waiting list must include the following information about each applicant: 

A PHA may find that it needs additional information on the waiting list in order to effectively manage the applications. A family’s apparent qualification as very low-income or extremely low-income is essential for effective management of the income targeting requirement.

A PHA using a lottery system for placement on the waiting list will need to record the applicants assigned lottery number in order to determine the order in which the applicant will be selected. 

The waiting list should be analyzed periodically to ensure that it adequately represents the objectives of the housing choice voucher program. Points of analysis may include: 

  • Are there a sufficient number and variety of applicants to ensure full utilization of the PHA’s rental assistance resources?  
  • Do the applicants represent a broad range of social and economic characteristics that are representative of the community?  
  • Are those families determined least likely to apply adequately represented?  
  • Will the PHA be able to satisfy income-targeting requirements with current applicants?  

A PHA may not take any of the following actions because an applicant has applied for, received, or refused other federal, state, or local housing assistance: 

  • Refuse to list the applicant on the housing choice voucher program waiting list 
  • Deny any admission preference for which the applicant is qualified for 
  • Change the applicant’s place on the waiting list based on preference, date and time of application, or other factors affecting selection under the PHA selection policy 
  • Remove the applicant from the waiting list 

Documentation

Applicant files must be retained for at least three years after the date an application is closed, withdrawn from the waiting list, or determined ineligible. Applications from families admitted to the program must be retained by the PHA for the duration of the families’ participation in the program.  

All files should be maintained in a place that assures confidentiality and accessed only by authorized staff. This applies to all files, either paper or electronic. Although there are no federal confidentiality requirements, PHA management will want to remind application and admissions staff of the importance of applicant file confidentiality. Failure to provide confidentiality to program families may have a negative impact on the PHA’s ability to obtain full and accurate family information. 

The PHA should create a waiting list applicant file to hold the application and any related correspondence and supporting documentation. Active applicant files should be separated from ineligible or inactive applicant files. Applicant files should be organized in a way that provides an accurate and chronological history. This documentation is important because it gives the PHA a permanent written record of actions taken which affects the application. Actions that should be recorded include:  

PHAs should consider using a simple format to document all communication and outreach attempts with the applicant, including date, reason, and action taken. As eligible applicants are selected from the waiting list, determined eligible, issued a voucher, and leased under the program, the applicant file then forms the basis of the participant file. 

Keep in mind, the condition of a PHA’s program files is an indicator of the quality of its program administration. 

As always, you will want to reference your PHA’s administrative plan for any specific guidelines.