About Public Housing

WHAT IS PUBLIC HOUSING? Public Housing is a program created by HUD to help low income families to obtain safe, decent, and affordable housing. The program is administered by local housing authorities who utilize HUD funding to provide subsidized assistance for low income households.  Public housing rents are priced well below market rate, allowing families to live in convenient, well-maintained locations rather than move to undesirable areas or become homeless.

Public Housing is development-based assistance. This means that the housing assistance is assigned to a specific housing development, owned and managed by a PHA. When a vacancy occurs in that development, the PHA offers you the residence. If you accept, you agree to live in that residence in that public housing development. As long as you live in the residence, you should receive the benefit of rental assistance. If you move out of the development, the assistance stays with the residence and the next family to move in will receive the assistance.

How do I apply?

Click here to apply online. Feel free to call us at (301) 733-6911 if you need further information, or visit our Apply for Housing page by clicking here.

What will happen after I apply?
The application process consists of three phases.

  1. Receipt of the Housing Application and placement on the Waiting List
  2. Determination of preliminary eligibility
  3. Final determination of eligibility based on the enrollment interview
Placement on the Wait List

An applicant’s place on the wait list is according to the number of bedrooms needed and will be determined by the following system of preferences:

25 Points: Reasonable Accommodation: Applicants who reside in a public housing dwelling or receive Section 8 Assistance and are approved to transfer as a reasonable accommodation to a different Authority program.

20 Points: Residency Preference: Applicants who reside in the Hagerstown Metropolitan Statistical Area (HMSA), which includes Washington County, or applicants who work, or who have been hired to work in the HMSA.

5 Points: Elderly/Disabled Head or Co-head or Displaced Single: Any head, or co-head, who is elderly, age 62 or older, or a person with disabilities as defined in HUD regulations and the Housing Authority’s definitions; and/or any single person displaced by disaster or government action as defined in HUD regulations and Housing Authority definitions.

5 Points: Working Preference: Any head, co-head or family member who is employed and such income is countable under HUD’s definition of annual income.

Removal from the Wait List
Any applicant who is determined ineligible or whose name is withdrawn from the wait list will be notified by the Housing Authority, in writing, that they have ten (10) days from the date of the written correspondence to present mitigating circumstances or request an informal review. The Housing Authority will not remove an applicant’s name from the waiting list unless:

  1. The applicant request in writing that the name be removed
  2. The applicant fails to respond to a written request for information, or fails to provide requested information to determine eligibility within a reasonable time frame, or fails to declare their continued interest in the program, or
  3. The applicant does not meet either the eligibility or suitability criteria for the program;
  4. The applicant fails to appear for scheduled appointment(s)
Verification Process
The Housing Authority will verify information related to waiting list preferences, eligibility, admission, and level of benefits prior to admission. Periodically during occupancy, items related to eligibility and rent determination shall also be reviewed and verified. Income, assets, and expenses will be verified. As well as disability status, need for a live-in aide and other reasonable accommodations; full time student status of family members 18 years of age and older; Social Security numbers; and citizenship/eligibility non-citizen status. Age and relationship will only be verified in those instances where needed to make a determination of level of assistance
Enrollment Interview
The enrollment process includes final verification of the following:

  1. Eligibility criteria and determination of suitability
  2. Review of credit check, background information, landlord references and third party verification of income, assets and expenses of all family members

The enrollment interview includes final verification of family size and status and present proof of citizenship or eligible immigration status, identity papers such as driver’s license or Birth Certificates, Social Security numbers and current information on all family income, assets and eligible expenses will be verified.

Offer of Unit

Applicants who have completed the enrollment interview will be contacted by telephone or letter and advised of the availability of a unit. Applicant must respond to the offer within four (4) days from the date at the top of the offer letter. Any applicant who has refused an offer three times are removed from the wait list and must reapply.

Lease Up Interview
Prior to signing the lease all adult family members, 18 and older are required to attend the Lease Up Interview for a final orientation. The head of household and all adult family members, 18 and older, will be required to execute the lease prior to admission.
Security Deposit Policy

The family will pay a security deposit at the time of lease signing.  The security deposit amount is determined based on a variety of factors, including family income, size, and community.

ABOUT Housing Choice Vouchers (section 8)

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, previously known as Section 8, is rental subsidy funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and is generally managed by local housing authorities. 

Housing Choice Vouchers are tenant-based assistance. This means that assistance is assigned to a family, in the form of a Housing Choice Voucher issued by the housing authority. With the Housing Choice Voucher, you find rental housing on the private housing market and the housing authority agrees to assist you with your rent in that house or apartment. The housing must meet certain basic quality standards, the rent must be reasonable, and the owner must be willing to participate in the program. When you leave that housing, you can take the assistance with you to a different house or apartment on the private market, and receive assistance there.

After receipt of your application and determination of income eligibility is made, your name will be placed on a waiting list. Placement on the waiting list is determined by Preference Points. Points are given to residents of the City of Hagerstown, applicants who are elderly or disabled and date and time of application.

As soon as you have been notified that you are eligible and a voucher is issued, you may begin your search for housing. You will be given a list of landlords already participating in the HCV Program, or you may select a rental property of your choice.

In order to determine continued eligibility in the HCV Program, an Annual Re-certification is required by HUD for all families. During that re-certification, your family composition and income deductions will be reviewed. An annual inspection will also be performed to ensure that the property continues to meet HUD and HHA standards for safe, decent and affordable housing.

For more information or to apply for a Housing Choice Voucher, please click the button below to view the Housing Choice Voucher page.


The Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) is a voluntary program of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). RAD seeks to preserve public housing by providing Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) such as Hagerstown Housing Authority (HHA) with access to more stable funding to make needed improvements to properties. Public housing units across the country need more than $26 billion in repairs. HUD refers to these repair costs as capital needs. Congress has not provided enough funding for PHAs to keep up with capital needs.

As a result, PHAs have had to make tough choices between things like repairing roofs and replacing plumbing—or worse, demolishing public housing. RAD provides PHAs a way to rehabilitate, or repair, units without depending on additional money from Congress.

Owners of public housing projects converted to Project Based Voucher assistance via RAD enter into a Housing Assistance Payment contract with the PHA that will administer the PBV assistance. These conversions employ the PBV HAP Contract for New Construction or Rehabilitation.

About Tax Credit

The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) is the federal government’s primary
program for encouraging the investment of private equity in the development of
affordable rental housing for low-income households. Since its creation in 1986, the
LIHTC has helped to finance more than 2.4 million affordable rental-housing units for
low-income households.

The LIHTC program was established as part of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 and is
commonly referred to as section 42, the applicable section of the Internal Revenue
Code (IRC). The LIHTC program provides tax incentives to encourage individual and corporate investors to invest in the development, acquisition, and rehabilitation of affordable rental housing.

The LIHTC is an indirect federal subsidy that finances low-income housing. This allows investors to claim tax credits on their federal income tax returns. The tax credit is calculated as a percentage of costs incurred in developing the affordable housing property, and is claimed annually over a 10-year period.

The equity raised with LIHTCs can be used for newly constructed and substantially
rehabilitated and affordable rental-housing properties for low-income households, and for the acquisition of such properties in acquisition/rehabilitation deals. LIHTCs provide equity equal to the present value of either 30 percent (referred as the
4 percent credit) or 70 percent (referred to as the 9 percent credit) of the eligible costs of a low-income housing project, depending in part on whether tax-exempt bonds are used to finance the project.

To qualify for the credit, a project must meet the requirements of a qualified low-income project. Project sponsors/developers are required to set aside at least
40 percent of the units for renters earning no more than 60 percent of the area’s median income or 20 percent of the units for renters earning 50 percent or less
of the area’s median income.

These units are subject to rent restrictions such that the maximum permissible gross rent, including an allowance for utilities, must be less than 30 percent of imputed income based on an area’s median income.

State selection procedures for tax credit allocations often encourage project sponsors
to provide more than the minimum number of affordable units and greater than the
minimum level of affordability. Because these credits are available only for affordable
rental units, many applications designate 100 percent of units in properties as affordable and reserve some units for renters earning well below 50 percent of the area median income.


About VASH

VASH  is HUD’s housing program for veterans. VASH is in conjunction with Section 8 HCV. If you are a veteran in the Hagerstown area, you may be eligible for a HUD VASH voucher. The Veterans’ Association will refer you to HHA if you need housing assistance, and HHA will process your application and determine your eligibility.

We will conduct a background check, but unlike typical applicants, if you have committed a crime or owe money to a housing authority, you are still eligible for the VASH program. Sex offenders, however, will still be considered ineligible.

Once we have processed your application, there is no waitlist for you as a veteran, since the VASH program is different from the regular Section 8 program.

Once you are issued your VASH voucher, you may choose any public market unit that you would like.

For more information about the HUD VASH program, click below to view HUD’s website.

About HCV Home ownership

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) homeownership program allows families that are assisted under the HCV program to use their voucher to buy a home and receive monthly assistance in meeting homeownership expenses. 

The HCV homeownership program is available only to families that have been admitted to the program and is very limited.

To participate in the HCV homeownership program, the HCV family must meet specific income and employment requirements (the employment requirement does not apply to elderly and disabled families), be a first-time homeowner as defined in the regulation, attend and satisfactorily complete the pre-assistance homeownership and housing counseling program required by the PHA, and meet any additional eligibility requirements set by HHA. 


About Mixed income

Mixed-income housing developments are comprised of housing with various levels of affordability, including market-rate and affordable housing within the same property.  Mixed income properties contribute to the long term HHA goal of decentralizing public housing and providing more opportunities for public housing residents to transition to self-sufficiency.

Most housing professionals agree that concentrating assisted-housing for low- and very low-income populations in dense, urban areas is not an effective use of scarce affordable housing resources. Over the past decade, professionals in the affordable housing industry have turned increasingly to mixed-income housing as an alternative to traditional assisted-housing initiatives. Mixed-income housing is an attractive option because, in addition to creating housing units for occupancy by low-income households, it also contributes to the diversity and stability of local communities.

There have been numerous successful mixed-income developments nationwide.  HHA successfully utilized mixed income for the Gateway Crossing community and plans to do the same for McCleary Hill.

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