Skip to main content

This content was last updated on 2/13/2024

What is public housing?

Public housing is a program that helps low-income families rent a home at a price they can afford. The federal government and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, (HUD), give money to Public Housing Authorities (PHAs). Public housing is owned and run by the local PHAs. A family pays part of the rent based on the family’s income.  Rent is lower than it would be in a private apartment.

For a list of Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) in Kentucky, go to

NOTE:  On the list, “low rent” means it is public housing.

Is section 8 housing different than public housing?

Yes. Section 8 housing is privately owned housing. The owner accepts tenants with low incomes and agrees that the tenant and government both pay towards the rent. The tenant pays rent based on their income, and the government pays the owner the rest of the rent. 

Who is eligible for public housing?

Public housing is for low-income people and low-income families. The PHA determines your eligibility based on:

  • your annual gross income (income before taxes are taken out);
  • if you are elderly, have a disability, or a family; and
  • if you are a U.S. citizen or have an eligible immigration status.

If you are eligible, the PHA checks your references to make sure you and your family are good tenants. PHAs don’t rent to people whose habits and practices are likely to be harmful to other tenants.

How do I apply for public housing?

To apply for public housing, contact your local PHA.  For a list of Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) in Kentucky, go to

NOTE:  On the list, “low rent” means it is public housing.

How does the application process work?

The application must be written. You or the PHA representative needs to fill it out. A PHA usually needs the following information from you to figure out if you are eligible:

  • Names of all people who would be living in the unit, their gender, their date of birth and their relationship to you.
  • Your current address and phone number.
  • Special characteristics (like you are a veteran) or circumstances (like you have been the victim of domestic violence or live in unsafe housing). These things might help you and your family qualify for preferences in getting into public housing (like being put higher on the waiting list).
  • Names and addresses of your current landlord and past landlords. This is to get information about how your family is as tenants.
  • An estimate of your family's income for the next 12 months and where that income comes from.
  • Names and addresses of employers, banks, and other information the PHA asks for. They need to verify things like your income and deductions, and who is in your family.
  • The PHA may visit you in your home to interview you and your family and to see how you take care of your home.

After getting all this information, the PHA representative should tell you about the public housing program and its requirements. They can also answer any questions you have.

How do I know if I am approved?

The PHA must tell you in writing that your application is approved. If you are approved, your name is put on a waiting list, unless they can help you right away. When they get to your name on the waiting list, the PHA will contact you. If they decide that you are not eligible anymore, the PHA must tell you why. If they tell you are not eligible anymore, you can ask for an informal hearing. 

What if my public housing application is denied?

If your application for public housing is denied, the PHA must tell you in writing. They must tell you:

  • why you were denied;
  • what to do if you want to appeal the denial; and
  • how much time you have to appeal.

If you want to appeal the denial of your application, it is best to send a written request for an appeal hearing (also called a grievance hearing). You should write a letter stating that you disagree with the decision to deny your application and say you want a hearing.

Do I have to sign a lease?

If you are offered an apartment and accept it, you will have to sign a lease with the PHA. You may have to give them a security deposit. You and the PHA representative should go over the lease together. This will give you a better understanding of your responsibilities as a tenant and the PHA's responsibilities as a landlord. 

Can I be evicted from public housing?

Yes. You can be evicted from public housing but only for good cause. Examples of good cause for eviction are:

  • not paying the rent;
  • serious or repeated violations of the lease; or
  • criminal activity that threatens the health and safety of other tenants or disturbs the peace.
Does the PHA have to tell me if they want to evict me? 

Yes. If the PHA decides there is good cause to evict you, you will get a written lease termination notice. This notice tells you what parts of the lease they think you violated. The notice also must tell you the date they want you to leave. You have the right to review the documents the PHA used to make its decision to end your lease. If you didn’t do what the PHA says you did or if you don’t think it was serious enough for an eviction, you can appeal the termination of your lease. 

The process to appeal a decision to evict you is called the grievance procedure. You don’t have to ask for an appeal in writing, but it’s a good idea so you have a record of it.  You can find additional information about the public housing grievance procedure here:

If you get a notice from the PHA about trying to evict you and you disagree, contact your local legal aid office for help right away:

Are there other things I can use the grievance procedure for? 

Yes. You have a right to appeal any decisions or actions taken by the PHA if you disagree with them. You can use the grievance procedure to challenge the PHA about:

  • repairs that are not done:
  • maintenance charges;
  • late fees calculation of your rent; and
  • not letting you add household members to your lease.

You don’t have to ask for an appeal in writing, but it’s a good idea so you have a record of it.

If you get a notice from the PHA that it is taking some action against you and you disagree, contact your local legal aid office for help right away:


Was this info helpful?

Please include your email if you want us to follow up with you.