How Do I Apply For BHA Housing?
Boston Housing Authority (BHA) processes over 10,000 new applications every year. There are thousands of more applicants than there are available housing units – so the selected waiting lists can be very long. For more information about availability click here.
BHA does not provide immediate housing, nor does it provide short-term or shelter housing.
Step 1: Determine Your Eligibility
Housing eligibility varies by program. Read the Housing Eligibility section for program requirements.
Step 2: Find the Location(s) Where You Want to Live
BHA strongly encourages visiting the neighborhoods and properties in order to make the right decision for yourself and your family. Learn more about the Public Housing and Leased Housing/Section 8 Rental Assistance communities you might like to live in.
Use this tool to get a general sense of the communities which might be appropriate for your family.
Don’t apply for a community in which you don’t want to live! If you reject an offer of housing, you won’t get another choice. Your application will be removed from all waiting lists selected.
Step 3: Watch an Application Briefing Video
We encourage you to watch the following video before deciding to apply for the BHA's housing programs.
Step 4: Complete the BHA Application
To apply for housing with BHA you may:
- Complete and print this BHA Application Package; please print single-sided and legal size paper (8.5" by 14") OR
- Visit the BHA's John F. Murphy Housing Service Center, located at 56 Chauncy Street, Downtown Boston:
Monday-Wednesday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00p.m. to obtain the BHA Application
- The Elderly or Disabled may request a mailed copy of the BHA Application by calling the status Line at:
(617) 988-3400 Monday-Wednesday between 11:00AM and 2:00PM
To apply be prepared with these items.
Here are some things to consider when applying for housing at BHA.
Be advised that in order to apply for most Leased Housing/Section 8 Rental Assistance programs, applicants must qualify for Priority One status.
Step 5: Submit Your Application
You must submit your completed and signed BHA Application in person only on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at:
Boston Housing Authority
John F. Murphy Housing Service Center
56 Chauncy Street
Boston, MA 02111
The BHA will not be able to make a copy of your application for you. Please make a complete copy of your application before you submit it to the BHA.
Review the Section 8/Leased Housing priorities and preferences, and/or the Public Housing priorities and preferences to determine which might apply to your situation. You will be required to verify these priority and preference statuses when you are contacted to start your final eligibility determination screening personal interview.
Step 6: Confirmation of Preliminary Eligibility
Your application will be processed within 12 weeks of submitting it to BHA. You will receive a preliminary eligibility letter stating the waiting lists on which your household has been placed. This letter will also list the priorities and preferences which you claimed, and your unique client number.
Checking the Status of Your Application
The waiting time to begin the screening or final eligibility process varies from 10 weeks to over five years from your date of application, depending on the number of bedrooms and type of unit your household requires, your priority and preference points, and the number of units that become available at the communities you have selected. A community’s waiting list may range from 1,200 to 13,000 applicants.
It is impossible to identify what number families rank on the waiting lists as this number may vary daily. Therefore, BHA may only provide a rough estimate of when a family might be selected for the final eligibility screening process.
Applicants may check their application status by:
- Visiting the Housing Service Center (56 Chauncy Street, Boston, MA 02111) Monday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; OR
- Calling the Status Information Line at (617) 988-3400, Monday through Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m
Updating Your Application
You are required to inform BHA in writing of any change that may affect the status of your application. Changes can include
Submit any changes by mail or in person to BHA Housing Service Center at 56 Chauncy Street, Boston, MA 02111. Include your client number or Social Security number to ensure the correct file record is updated. BHA’s Housing Service Center is open Monday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Step 7: Final Eligibility Screening
When you reach this step (referred to as “screening” or “determination of final eligibility” by BHA), BHA will mail you a letter with an interview date and time. This letter will outline the required forms to be completed and a list of verifying documents to bring to the interview. You are required to bring the completed and signed forms to the interview which will be reviewed by the assigned BHA staff with the applicant.
Section 5.3 of the BHA's Administrative Plan provides a detailed description of the final eligibility screening process for Section 8/Leased Housing programs.
Section 5.3 of the BHA's Admissions and Continued Occupancy Plan provides a detailed description of the final eligibility screening process for Public Housing programs.
Step 8: Receiving a Housing Offer
Public Housing: Once an appropriate Public Housing unit is available, you will receive a written housing offer with a response deadline by which you must accept or reject the offer. You will have the opportunity to view the apartment and meet the site staff prior to accepting an offer. Be advised that if you fail to respond to the housing offer notification within the deadline or you reject the housing offer without documenting a good cause or establish a new reasonable accommodation need, your application will be withdrawn from all public housing waiting lists.
Project-Based or Moderate Rehabilitation: When you receive an offer for the Project-Based Voucher or Moderate Rehabilitation programs, you will be required to contact the owner or manager to participate in their screening process. If you fail to respond to the owner or manager to schedule their screening interview, or to complete the owner’s screening process, or you reject the housing offer, your application will be withdrawn from all Project-Based and Moderate Rehabilitation waiting lists.
Tenant-Based Voucher Programs (currently closed): When you receive a housing voucher, you attend a briefing on using the voucher and finding an apartment. You have 120 days to locate suitable housing. When you find a unit and reach an agreement with the landlord over the lease terms, BHA will inspect the apartment and determine if the rent requested is reasonable. Once BHA approves your apartment, you and the landlord sign a lease. At the same time, the landlord and BHA sign a housing assistance payments contract (HAP) that runs for the same term as the lease. If this process is not completed within 120 days of the voucher being issued to you, the voucher will expire.
If an applicant is withdrawn or is determined not eligible for the claimed priority, preference or housing, the applicant has the right to file an appeal with BHA. For more information on filing an appeal, applicants may contact BHA's Office of Grievances and Appeals at (617) 988-4579.