Waiting List Overview Copy

The PHA is responsible for establishing an application and selection process that treats applicants fairly and consistently and provides an effective method for determining eligibility. Program regulations, established by HUD, provide flexibility for each PHA to develop an application and selection process tailored to its particular circumstances.

The design of these processes must result in consistent determinations as to which applicants should be placed on the waiting list, issued a voucher, or determined ineligible to participate in the program, and comply with HUD rules on non-discrimination.  Conducting outreach, as needed, to inform residents of an open waiting list, and maintaining an up-to-date waiting list is an important PHA responsibility.

An up-to-date and well-managed waiting list promotes fair and consistent treatment of families, ensures that needy families receive assistance as quickly as possible. 

The PHA’s application and selection policies must be stated in the PHA’s administrative plan. These policies should be reviewed periodically to ensure that they are current and effectively support the PHA’s occupancy and leasing objectives. 

Opening The Waiting List

Some PHAs always keep the housing choice voucher program waiting list open and accept applications at any time. Other PHAs only open the waiting list for brief application periods. Either approach may be acceptable. What is important is that the approach used results in a waiting list that has a sufficient number of eligible applicants to ensure that new and turnover vouchers are issued as quickly as possible to eligible applicants. 

The decision to open will depend upon local needs and circumstances, such as the receipt of new increments, availability of a large number of previously issued vouchers, existence of an outdated or diminished waiting list, or the need to target special populations, such as persons with disabilities or family unification eligible families.


A PHA’s advertising or outreach plan must be included in the PHA administrative plan. All outreach, advertising, and public notices announcing the opening or closing of a waiting list must include efforts to ensure that the information will reach those populations that are considered to be “least likely to apply” for assistanceinclude efforts to reach persons with disabilities, and must also state any limitation on who may apply for the available slots in the program

Families that may require special outreach considerations include: 

Working Poor
Persons With Disabilities

All advertising and outreach literature must include the equal housing opportunity logo and non-discrimination in the advertising message. 

Closing The Waiting List

A PHA should consider closing its waiting list when it has insufficient funds available to assist all applicants on the waiting list over a reasonable period of time. Although the PHA has the discretion to define what is considered reasonable, it is recommended that the wait for assistance not be more than 12 to 24 months. 

Before closing the waiting list, the PHA should consider the following: 

  • Are there enough applicants to account for contract turnovers and vouchers that are issued but do not result in a HAP contract?  
  • Does the PHA wish to continue to take applications from families that meet certain local preferences, such as homeless or disabled families?  
  • Is there a sufficient number of extremely low-income families on the waiting list to satisfy requirements?  
  • How long is the average wait for the various categories of applicants on the waiting list? 

Updating The Waiting List

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