What is public housing?

Renting in Massachusetts can be financially challenging for some. Low-income individuals and families who have trouble making rent can apply for an apartment in public housing or for subsidized rental assistance from the state.

The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is the primary state agency that helps residents find safe and affordable housing in Massachusetts. DHCD administers low-income housing programs for families , the elderly, and the disabled , as well as those with special needs. Local Housing Authorities (LHAs) oversee public housing developments, manage rental housing voucher programs, and work to increase affordable housing opportunities in their designated areas.

Public housing in Massachusetts is available to low-income individuals and families, as well as the elderly and disabled. Qualified applicants must have an annual income below Net Income Limits by Household Size for Determining Admission for State-Aided Programs, based on the number of people in the household. Elderly applicants must be at least 60 years old, and disabled applicants must provide documentation verifying their disability as part of the application process.

Before making a final decision, a Local Housing Authority (LHA) will evaluate each applicant's household. Once approved, applicants are placed on a waiting list; priority is reserved for those who become homeless through no fault of their own. Additionally, preference is given to veterans and local residents. Applications must be filed with the Local Housing Authority (LHA) that serves the community where the applicant wants to live. There is no limit to the number of applications an applicant may file. The rent for qualified households varies based on monthly income and whether utilities are included in the rent.

  • Family housing residents pay 25 to 30 percent of their income towards rent depending on what utilities are included. (At the Belchertown Housing Authority it's 27% of income.)
  • Elderly/handicapped housing residents pay 30 percent of their income towards rent.

Applicants that are currently homeless can apply for emergency housing. They must meet the standard requirements for family or elderly/handicapped public housing and submit additional documentation to support the emergency application.

Source: Mass.gov, The Official Website of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts http://www.mass.gov/portal/articles/massachusetts-public-housing-rental-assistance.html