Public & Subsidized Housing

Authored By: Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc. LSC Funded


Who is eligible for public housing?

Public housing is limited to low-income families and individuals. 

Eligibility is based on:

1) income;

2) whether you qualify as elderly, a person with a disability, or as a family; and,

3) U.S. citizenship or immigration status. 

Admission will be denied any applicant whose behavior may be expected to have a negative effect on other tenants or the property. 


How do I apply?

  • Contact a local Public Housing Authority (PHA) or the local HUD Field Office. 
  • Complete a written application, providing information about those who will be living in the property
  • Present required documents to the local housing authority


When you apply for any public housing assistance or Section 8 assistance you cannot be asked about your:

  • sexual orientation,
  • gender identity,
  • marital status or,
  • whether or not you have been a victim of domestic violence.


If you are denied admission, you may have access to the following remedies:          

  • Public Housing Program (Entire complexes that are government sponsored)
    • Notice of denial and
    • a hearing is provided
  • Privately owned HUD-Subsidized Housing (Section 8 Site-Based)
    • Notice of denial and
    • an informal meeting is provided
  • Section 8 Voucher Program (Private Housing Only)
    • Notice of denial and
    • a hearing is provided IF through the Public Housing Authority but not if through a private landlord. 


What happens if I am accepted?

  • You will have to sign a lease with the housing authority, and you may also have to give them a security deposit. 
  • Rent will be determined based on your income minus possible deductions.
  • You may stay in public housing as long as you comply with the lease.  Your living situation will, however, be subject to a review every year.  


What rights do I have as a tenant of public housing?          

  • Public Housing Program – A formal grievance procedure for complaints (evictions for violent and drug-related criminal conduct excluded from grievance procedure); a reason must be provided for eviction or nonrenewal of a lease
  • Privately Owned HUD Subsidized Housing – No formal hearing process for complaints, but you do have the right to meet with the owner on evictions, rejections, subsidy terminations, security deposit refunds; a reason must be provided for eviction or nonrenewal of a lease
  • Section 8 Voucher Program – A formal procedure for complaints to PHA but not for those to landlords; no reason required for eviction/nonrenewal, but tenant gets a voucher to move elsewhere


Examples of common complaints:

  • Your rent went up more than it should have according to the rules
  • The Public Housing Authority (PHA) is not making repairs that you need and you have asked for
  • The PHA denied you a transfer
  • The PHA will not let you add someone to your lease
  • You are being charged late fees when you paid your rent on time. 


How does the grievance process work?

  • Immediately write a letter to your PHA explaining the problem. 
    Include in the letter a request for an informal conference. 
  • When you know the date, prepare for the conference by gathering witnesses who know about your complaint and documents supporting it (you have the right to look at and copy any record the PHA has about you).  
  • After the conference, you will receive a report from the PHA.  If you are not pleased with it, ask for a formal hearing (the report will tell you how to do this). 
  • Prepare for the formal hearing in similar ways as you did with the informal hearing; if you ask for information prior to the hearing, the PHA cannot use any information at the hearing that it did not provide you beforehand. 
  • The last step is to go to court if you are not happy with the outcome of the formal hearing.
Last Review and Update: Jun 20, 2013

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