What Are HUD Housing Programs?

HUD housing programs, or the benefits established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, were designed to give low-income families, people with disabilities and the elderly access to safe and decent rental housing. As of 2015, about 1.2 million households live in HUD-administered units.

HUD public housing programs are only available to low-income individuals and families. Local housing agencies, or HAs, determine the eligibility for applicants. This is on the basis of annual gross income, citizenship or eligible immigrant status, and/or whether one qualifies as disabled, elderly or as a family. Eligible applicants provide references so that the local HA can determine whether or not they make sound tenants. If the applicants' practices or habits are likely to be harmful to other tenants or the housing project in general, the HA refuses admission.

As of 2015, the lower income limits for consideration are 80 percent of the county or metropolitan area's median income, while the very low income limits are at 50 percent. Because median incomes vary, it's possible to have one HA deny an application while another in a different area would approve it. Each local HA provides information about individual income limits to applicants.

The application process goes through the local HA and must take place in writing rather than online. Documentation of income takes the form of prior tax returns, and items such as birth certificates are often requirements for establishing identification. Applicants receive written notification from the HA, either of acceptance or rejection.