Boston Housing Authority

For Applicants > Do I Qualify for BHA Housing?

Housing Availability 

Boston Housing Authority processes over 10,000 new applications every year. Because there are many more applicants than housing, there is a lengthy waiting list. It is difficult to predict the time between applying and receiving a housing offer – it can sometimes take years. 

BHA has no immediate housing available. The first step is to complete an application at BHA. As housing becomes available, BHA schedules personal interviews with applicants. Applicants are required to provide verification documentation at the time of the interview.

Applicants with demonstrated emergency housing needs that qualify them for a priority and/or preference could receive a housing offer sooner than applicants who do not. Learn more about Public Housing Priorities and Preferences, and Leased Housing Priorities and Preferences.  

Be advised: The waiting list for the Section 8 tenant-based voucher is currently closed.
 

Am I Eligible?

Housing eligibility varies by Public Housing or Section 8/Leased Housing programs. BHA staff evaluate each individual application and make an eligibility decision. Here are some general guidelines that BHA uses to assess your eligibility. 

  • Income limits: Check the most current income limits and public housing income deductions and exclusions
  • Background screening: Background check for criminal history, eviction records, ability to pay rent on time and maintain a clean and healthy home. This will be verified by current and previous landlords and neighbor references. Some programs require eligible immigration status. Claimed priority and/or preference will be verified by a third party. 
  • Family composition: Households are assigned a specific number of bedrooms based on family size, usually 1-2 people per bedroom. Learn more about occupancy limits.
  • Identification: All adult household members must have a valid photo ID. 
  • Social Security number/citizenship: Some communities require each household member have a Social Security number or certify that he/she has no number. These communities also require each household member to document that he/she is a U.S. citizen, or has eligible non-citizen status. Read the detailed guidelines.
  • Elderly/Disabled housing: The head or co-head of the household must be 60 years of age or older or 62 years of age or older, depending on the community; or disabled as defined by law.
  • Priority One status: For most Leased Housing/Section 8 programs applicants must be qualified as Priority One status. 
 

Additional Requirements for Special Programs

  • Elderly/Disabled public housing: Open to those age 60 (state programs) or 62 (federal programs) or older, as well as all disabled applicants. Elderly/disabled housing is limited to two bedrooms.
  • Elderly/disabled Section 8 Rental Assistance (Project-Based and Moderate Rehabilitation): Open to those age 62 years (federal programs) or older, as well as all disabled applicants.
  • Grandparent Program: Open to those 60 years of age (state program) and older and/or disabled applicants with permanent legal custody of one or two grandchildren of the same gender. This program is limited to two-bedroom units only.
  • Wheelchair Accessible Housing: Open to anyone who needs wheelchair accessibility.
     

Why You Could Be Denied

  • If any household member has been evicted from a federally funded housing development or has had federal rental assistance terminated by a public housing agency within the last three years.
  • If the applicant has any outstanding past debts with the BHA or any other subsidized housing programs. To be considered, applicants must pay the debt in full before entering the BHA final eligibility determination process.
  • If any household member is required to register as a lifetime sex offender.
  • If any household member has been convicted or found guilty of producing methamphetamine on subsidized properties.

For more detailed Public Housing program information, read the BHA's Screening Policy.

For more detailed Section 8/Leased Housing program information, read BHA's Denial of Voucher and Appeals.