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Subsidized Housing — How it Works

As you begin your search for suitable, affordable housing you’ll want to understand a little bit about federal and state housing programs and how they work.

Public housing was established to provide decent and safe rental housing for eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. Public housing comes in all sizes and types, from scattered single-family houses to high-rise apartments for elderly families. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers Federal aid to local housing authorities that manage the housing for low-income residents at rents they can afford. HUD furnishes technical and professional assistance in planning, developing and managing these developments.


  • annual gross income
  • whether you qualify as elderly, a person with a disability, or as a family
  • U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status

If you are eligible, the housing agency will check your references to make sure you and your family will be good tenants. Housing agencies will deny admission to any applicant whose habits and practices may be expected to have a detrimental effect on other tenants or on the project's environment.

Income Eligibility Guidelines

Housing authorities use income limits developed by HUD. HUD sets the lower income limits at 80% and very low-income limits at 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area in which you choose to live. Income limits vary from area-to-area so you may be eligible at one housing authority but not at another. The housing authority serving your community can provide you with the income levels for your area and family size. You can also find the income limits here. If you are interested in applying for public housing, contact your local housing authority.

The NJ Department of Community Affairs oversees the work of the Division of Housing and Community Resources. Among its other responsibilities, the Division of Housing and Community Resources oversees programs that prevent homelessness and help people move out of temporary shelters and into stable, permanent housing. The office administers housing assistance programs such as the Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP), the Housing Choice Voucher Section 8 Program (Section 8) and the State Rental Assistance Program (SRAP). Learn about these programs here.

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