Do you think you and your family might be able to get low-income (Section 8) housing but are not sure? Here is a quick overview of the main criteria that will be covered in an application to help you decide.


The first screening for public housing will examine the following three criteria:

  • Annual gross income
  • Status as elderly, a person with a disability, or a family
  • US citizenship or immigration status

Family Income

Not every Housing Authority has the same requirements, which means that you may qualify for one HA, but not another. Eligibility is based on how your family income compares to the median income in your metropolitan statistical area. Your family income should be between 30-80% of the median family income for your area to qualify. Don’t try to calculate this yourself, its easiest to check the official datasets to determine what these limits are.

Background Checks

You will need to pass a background check to prove you, and all your family members meet HUD criteria and have not been convicted of violent, drug-related, or sex-offender crimes. The background check will also determine if you have ever been evicted from housing before. Individual HAs may establish additional screening criteria as well.

Government Units or Privately-Owned Housing

Depending on where you live, Section 8 housing options could include government-owned HAs and privately-owned units. The eligibility criteria for both are the same. If you end up in a private building, the local HUD officials will work with the owner to ensure your lease meets HUD standards and supply a monthly voucher for you to pay your rent.

Based on this information, if you think you are eligible for public housing, contact your local HUD office and get an application started. Due to high demand and limited supply, some areas have long wait times (up to several years). Good luck!