The U.S. Housing Authority determines eligibility for federal housing assistance based on gross annual household income, disabilities, the age of applicants, and citizenship or immigration status. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides rental assistance to eligible low-income families, elderly individuals and those with disabilities.
Because of the limited amount of funds available to the Housing and Urban Development Department's rental assistance program, applicants must meet certain criteria to qualify for assistance. To decide if a family meets income eligibility requirements, the Housing Authority compares an applicant's income to that of the median income for the area in which the applicant resides. As of 2015, if the applicant's income is less than, or equal to, 80 percent of the median area income, he is considered low income, while those whose income is less than, or equal to, 50 percent of the median are considered very low income.
Applicants are also subject to a reference check that aims to determine if the applicants are considered problematic tenants. The Housing Authority denies applicants deemed as potentially problematic into the rental assistance program. In some cases, officers of the Housing Authority may visit applicants' homes to observe the upkeep and cleanliness of the applicants' current housing. All Department of Housing and Urban Development rental assistance is handled locally by area Housing Authorities, and all applications are processed at these local centers as well.