In many subsidized programs the amount paid by the tenant for rent, heat and utilities is based on a percentage of gross household income. The subsidizing program pays the remainder of the rent. Each year the tenant is re-certified in case there is a change in household income.
Most subsidized housing programs require that the tenant’s income be no more than 50% of median income levels set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). For more information on the current HUD income limits, please check the following website: huduser.org/portal/datasets/il.html.
The Boston Housing Authority is the largest supplier of affordable housing in Boston. The BHA makes this housing available through two divisions:
Public Housing: This division operates family and elderly/disabled developments throughout Boston.
Leased Housing: This division issues tenant-based Section 8 vouchers, which are federal rent subsidies for qualified tenants living in apartments in privately owned buildings, and provides subsidies for Section 8 project-based developments.
Persons can apply for both public housing and Section 8 programs, when Section 8 applications are being accepted, at the BHA Housing Service Center at 56 Chauncy Street, Boston, MA 02111, Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM.
Qualified applicants who find that the waitlist for Section 8 vouchers is closed or too long should consider applying for public housing and/or project-based developments as well if those lists are open. Applications, priority forms and eligibility information are also available on the BHA’s website at www.bostonhousing.org or by calling (617) 988-4200 (TDD 800-545-1833 x420).
A Section 8 voucher obtained from the Boston Housing Authority may be used anywhere in the continental United States. Likewise, a voucher obtained from a Housing Authority outside Boston may be used in the City of Boston.
Once a tenant has a voucher, he has to find a landlord willing to enter into a Section 8 lease. While landlords are not permitted to refuse to accept vouchers for discriminatory reasons, they can refuse to accept them on other grounds.
In addition to income, factors such as age, disability and household composition are considered in the determination of qualified parties. Applicants for BHA public housing or Section 8 subsidy may qualify for a priority. Applicants with Priority One status go to the top of the list. Qualifications for Priority One status include being evicted by a court order but not for cause, homelessness, being a fire victim, or being a victim of domestic violence or a hate crime.
The Boston Fair Housing Commission operates Metrolist, the Metropolitan Housing Opportunity Clearing Center. It provides Boston residents with rental listings and information about government-assisted and private market housing located throughout the metropolitan area. Services include housing search counseling, referrals to housing and social service agencies, and a Resource Room, which contains information about local communities and available resources.
MassHousing is an independent public authority that provides financing for construction and preservation of affordable rental housing, and for affordable first and second mortgages for homebuyers and homeowners (website: www.masshousing.com).
The City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development contracts with local non-profit agencies to provide housing counseling services. Housing counselors at the agencies listed below can assist Boston tenants in their efforts to remain in their current apartment or in their search for new housing in specific neighborhoods.
NOAH: (617) 567-5882 East Boston, Charlestown, North End
Allston-Brighton CDC: (617) 787-3874 x201 or x216 Allston, Brighton
ABCD: Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan (617) 357-6000
City Life/Vida Urbana: (617) 524-3541 x303 Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, Dorchester, Roslindale, Hyde Park
Nuestra Comunidad: (617) 427-3599 Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, primary; also Allston-Brighton, Chinatown, Back Bay, Beacon Hill
Kit Clark Senior Services: (617) 533-9128 Dorchester, Mattapan, South Boston
Non-BHA family and elderly affordable housing developments are located in most neighborhoods. Applications for these housing units are usually available on site. Some of these developments are run by local Community Development Corporations (CDCs). Eligibility requirements for these units are usually similar to those of the BHA.