Income-based Housing Overview

Income-Based Housing Options in PA

USDA-RD Multi-Family Housing: Designed to provide affordable housing for low or moderate-income families or individuals whose incomes at initial occupancy do not exceed 115% of the Area Median Income (AMI) adjusted for family size in rural areas.

Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTC): Unlike most housing programs that are administered by HUD, the tax credit program is administered by the IRS and the state housing finance agencies (Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency). It provides the private market with an incentive to invest in affordable rental housing. Federal housing tax credits are awarded to developers of qualified projects. Developers then sell these credits to investors to raise capital (or equity) for their projects, which reduces the debt that the developer would otherwise have to borrow. Because the debt is lower, a tax credit property can in turn offer lower, more affordable rents. Provided the property maintains compliance with the program requirements, investors receive a dollar-for-dollar credit against their Federal tax liability each year over a period of 10 years. The amount of the annual credit is based on the amount invested in the affordable housing. Building owners funded by the LIHTC program must set aside a certain percentage of units for low or moderate income residents.  Tenants in these units receive a rental subsidy based on their income level.

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Project Based: Project Based Section 8 housing is a government-funded program that provides rental housing to low-income households in privately owned and managed rental units. The subsidy stays with the building; when you move out, you no longer have the rental assistance. Most units rental cost will be 30% of the household’s adjusted gross income. There may be a variety of housing types available through this program including single-family homes, townhomes, or apartments. Some units may be reserved for households that are elderly or for people with disabilities. The rent for some of the residential units is subsidized by HUD under the Section 8 New Construction (“New Construction”), Substantial Rehabilitation (“Substantial Rehabilitation”) and/or Loan Management Set-Aside (“LMSA”) Programs. All such assistance is “project-based”, i.e.; the subsidy is committed by HUD for the assisted units of a particular Mortgaged Property for a contractually determined period.

Public Housing Authority, Public Housing: 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. There are approximately 1.2 million households living in public housing units, managed by some 3,300 Housing Authorities. HUD administers Federal aid to local housing authorities that manage the housing for low-income residents at rents they can afford.

Public Housing Authority, Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8): The housing choice voucher program is the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities in affording decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments. The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program and is not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects. Housing choice vouchers are administered locally by Public Housing Authorities (PHA’s). The PHAs receive federal funds from HUD to administer the voucher program.  A family that is issued a housing voucher is responsible for finding a suitable housing unit of the family’s choice where the owner agrees to rent under the program. This unit may include the family’s present residence. Rental units must meet minimum standards of health and safety, as determined by the PHA.  A housing subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the PHA on behalf of the participating family. The family then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program. Under certain circumstances, if authorized by the PHA, a family may use its voucher to purchase a modest home.


Fair Market Rents

Fair Market Rent is the estimated amount of money a property with a certain number of bedrooms, in a certain area of the country, will rent for. It is a gross rent estimate that includes the base rent, as well as any essential utilities that the tenant would be responsible for paying, such as electricity, gas, water and sewer, and trash removal services.  HUD arrives at the numbers for each area with the help of census data and renter surveys.  Fair Market Rents are used to determine rental voucher amounts for government assistance housing programs such as the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8).


FY 2015 Fair Market Rents Lackawanna, Luzerne & Wyoming Counties
Year Efficiency 2-Bedroom 2-Bedroom 3-Bedroom 4-Bedroom
FY 2015 FMR $496 $590 $735 $933 $1,048

Income-based Housing Application Overview

Program Eligibility: Income-Based Housing options typically look at the following characteristics to determine eligibility:

  • Annual Gross Income
  • Household Status: Family, Elderly and/or Person with a Disability
  • US Citizenship or eligible Immigration status

Income Guidelines: This is a general guideline.  For complete eligibility, refer directly to the housing property you are applying to.


FY 2014 Income Limit Summary: Lackawanna, Luzerne & Wyoming Counties
Median Income FY 2014 Income Limit Category 1 Person 2 People 3 People 4 People
$58,200 Extremely Low (30%) Income Limits $12,250 $15,730 $19,790 $23,850
Very Low (50%) Income Limits $20,400 $23,300 $26,200 $29,100
Low (80%) Income Limits $32,600 $37,250 $41,900 $46,550


Application Process: This is a generalized guideline of the standard application process; actual responsibilities and information requested are subject to the process outlined by that housing property.

  • Submit application
  • Provide Documentation
  • In-person meeting
  • Verification of Documents
  • Background Checks Completed: Criminal, Utilities and/or Credit Check
  • Eligibility/Ineligibility Determined via letter
  • Wait List or Proceed with Program in finding housing or moving into a desired housing unit

Mandatory Denials: Owners are required to deny admission to Federally-assisted housing if:

  • Any household member has been evicted from Federally-assisted housing for drug-related criminal activity, for three years from the date of eviction.  If the evicted household member who engaged in drug-related criminal activity has successfully completed a supervised drug rehabilitation program or circumstances leading to the eviction no longer exist, the Owner may, but is not required to, admit the household.
  • Any household member who is currently engaging in illegal drug use.
  • There is reasonable cause to believe that a household member’s illegal use or a pattern of illegal use of a drug may interfere with the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents. (Examples of evidence of illegal activities may include a conviction record, former landlord references, etc.).
  • Any member of the household who is subject to a lifetime registration requirement under a state sex offender registration program.
  • Any family member has been convicted of manufacturing or producing methamphetamine (commonly referred to as “speed”) on the premises of an assisted housing project.