Public Housing refers to properties that are owned and managed by local housing authorities. Housing authorities receive funding through the State and Federal government to provide subsidized rents to tenants. Low-income tenants in public housing pay a subsidized rent that is based on their monthly household income (typically 30% of income). Depending on the program through which a property receives funding, public housing sites may be designated to explusively serve families, or elderly or disabled residents. An overview of state public housing programs is available on the DHCD website.
To qualify for most federally funded public housing, households must have gross annual incomes below 50% of the area median income (AMI), as determined by HUD’s annual income guidelines (here). While most public housing uses the 50% AMI limit to assess eligibility, income limits may vary depending on the housing authority and property.
Some public housing has additional requirements, such as properties that house elderly and disabled residents.
To receive assistance through federally funded elderly housing programs, residents must be 55+ or 62+ depending on the program, whereas state funded elderly housing programs provide assistance to residents who are 60+. Younger applicants may still be able to apply for elderly housing, so long as they meet the age requirements by the time they reach the top of the waiting list. Additionally, although not always advertised, many properties that primarily house elderly residents will also allow for younger disabled individuals to apply.
Any individual who has been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS will qualify as disabled when applying for housing. Disabled applicants will need to provide proof of disability to be considered for disabled housing. For more information specific to disabled applicants, see Resources for Disabled Applicants.
Many federally funded public housing programs require documentation of citizenship or immigration status, whereas state programs do not. For an overview of program eligibility for immigrants, see Mass Legal Help’s Immigrants and Housing Guide, last updated in 2015. As of February 2020, receiving federal housing assistance is now considered a “public charge” under the Department of Housing’s Public Charge Rule, and could be denied entering the U.S. or receiving a green card. For more information on changes to the Public Charge Rule, see the National Housing Law Project’s Fact Sheet.
Common Housing Application for Massachusetts Public Housing (CHAMP)
CHAMP is Massachusetts’ application for state-funded public housing. Applications can be completed online or printed and submitted through a local housing authority. During the application process, applicants identify which programs and local housing authorities they would like to apply to. After submitting an application, local housing authorities will process the application and contact applicants for screening when they reach the top of a waitlist.
Applying through Your Local Housing Authority
Any public housing properties that receive funding through federal programs are not included in the CHAMP application. To access federally funded public housing, it is necessary to apply directly through local housing authorities.
To locate nearby housing authorities, use the HUD PHA Map.
For Boston-area residents, use the links below to access public housing applications for local housing authorities.