How to Search and Apply for a HUD Apartment

Artwork: Robin Mead

One: Learn About HUD

If you have not already done so, it’s a real good idea to learn a little about How HUD Apartments Work

Two: Start Searching

Go to this map to search. If you are unable to use the map you can Go to this site to search, but the map is much better and will show you a lot more options.

Three: Find Everything

If you select to see ALL resources you will be shown a mix of different options:

🌸 Elderly and disability HUD apartments – These are often very affordable and very nice. If a house is marked elderly, be sure to call and ask if they also accept younger people who have a disability. They very often do. These are commonly one bedrooms and efficiencies, though a small number of two bedrooms are sometimes available.

🌸 Multifamily HUD apartments – These are a mix. Some are good, but many are generic public housing that are not as safe or well maintained. The way the HUD site is set up, it’s very difficult to tell the difference between the elderly housing and the multi-family housing. You may have to call and ask.

🌸 Low Income Tax Credit apartments – These are often (but not always) nice. Despite the name, some of them are not for actual low income. Some are cheap and some are pricier.

🌸 Group Homes – These are houses where people with disabilities live together and some care may be provided. They are often geared towards mental health or developmental disabilities.

🌸 Housing Agencies – These are local resources where you can call or visit their website to ask what other housing programs they have available.

Four: Broaden Your Horizons

🌸 You may have greater success if you search widely.

🌸 You can press the “plus” or “minus” button to zoom in and out on the map.

🌸 You may find it worth relocating if you find a great HUD apartment.

🌸 Some HUD apartments are clean, safe, quiet, well-maintained and have VERY low rent. If you find a place like this, it may be worth relocating.

Five: Start Calling

🌸  Start making calls! Be persistent! You may have to call back 5 times before someone answers the phone. You can also try leaving a message and see if someone calls you back. Sometimes they do.

🌸  You can also try to inquire by email. Many HUD apartments have emails that you can find by doing a Google search online. Sometimes this works, sometimes not.

🌸 Different buildings have different rules. Some will run credit checks and criminal background checks. Even if you have bad credit or a criminal background, you may still be eligible, depending on the circumstances. You may wish to inquire about this to find out more about where you will be eligible.

Six: Inquire About Rent

🌸 Rent will vary. In HUD apartments, rent will be 30% of your income. If your disability check is $900, your rent will be $300. Live-in aides live for free.

🌸 Even though this is the HUD map, not everything listed is a HUD apartment! Some charge higher rents. If you are looking for an apartment that charges 30%, be sure to keep calling and ask everywhere.

Six: Get Your Documents Together

🌸  It is possible that at some point you will come up on a waiting list, or you will be contacted by a housing agency, and you will be given very little time to get them your documents. Like “You have 5 days to get us these ten things!”

🌸 Start gathering together: birth certificate, social security card, recent social security and ssi benefit statements, pay stubs and income records, recent bank statements, proof of food stamps statements, driver’s license or state ID, and any other records related to your income and assets. Make sure your birth certificate is a vital records birth certificate not a hospital birth certificate.

🌸 If you don’t have all these things yet, you can still apply most places. It’s helpful to start putting them together for the future though.

Seven: Apply

🌸  Apply for as many waiting lists as you can.

🌸  It’s a great idea to take a few minutes to learn the rent regs. In some cases, certain regs can mean lower rent.

🌸  Some may require that you apply in person. If you are unable to do this because of your disability, you can request a disability accommodation.

🌸  If someone refuses your disability accommodation and insists that you must come in person to apply, you can try one of these Magic Sentences That Can Change a “No” to a “Yes”

Eight: Keep Looking

🌸  HUD apartments are one great housing option. But there are lots of other good options out there too! Check out USDA housing, Section 8 Housing Vouchers, intentional communities and a bunch more options here: Lots more housing options.

Nine: The Wait

🌸  After you apply, call to confirm your application was received and you are now on the waiting list.

🌸  If you move, make sure to give them your new address and then confirm that the new address is in their system.

🌸  It’s a good idea to call periodically to make sure they have your correct contact info and you are still on the list.

🌸 If you go out of town, try to have someone check your mail. You may get notices with deadlines to respond.

🌸  Some HUD apartments have no wait list and are available immediately. Others are 3+ years. If you apply several places, your chances will be better.

🌸  Be patient. In time you will find something great!!!



6 thoughts on “How to Search and Apply for a HUD Apartment”

  1. Subsidized housing is also available in rural counties and is funded through the USDA’s Rural Development Rental Assistance program. Many of these projects have shorter wait lists. I got into my current apartment in 3 months because there was a local preference.

    In both HUD and USDA projects all costs associated with your service or emotional support animal and medical expenses, along with income, are used to determine your monthly rent.

    Many people don’t realize they meet HUD’s definition of homelessness. If you are in a housing situation that is expected to last less than 10 days, or doubled up (couch surfing) you may meet HUD’s definition of homelessness, which opens up more options for housing. Many people erroneously think you have to be out on the streets or in a shelter to be considered homeless. There are also housing programs for people who are fleeing domestic violence.


    1. Thank you so much for this fabulous post Lisa. This will be very helpful.

      I’d love to know more about your experience with usda house. What is the house like? do you like it there? any tips for anyone else applying for USDA?


      1. The United States Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (USDA) funds several types of housing programs and can also help with loans for home ownership in very rural counties. I have a nice one bedroom apartment in a small rural town. It is well managed, safe and quiet, but health care and other services are limited. Also, the local grocery store doesn’t deliver. The apartment complex is for low-income elderly or disabled single people. It is managed by a non-profit and the local housing authority. It was built with a loan through the USDA and rents are subsidized through the USDA’s Rural Development Rental Assistance program. I pay roughly a third of my income for rent and utilities are included. If you want to find a subsidized apartment in a rural area or find out about their home loan programs you could contact your state’s USDA Rural Development officer at Basicly, it is similar to getting an apartment in a HUD funded apartment project, just in a very rural area.


  2. When you say HUD apartments take 30% of your income as the rent, does that typically include the utilities for the unit too?


    1. Hi Brian, I believe it does not include utilities in most places. I have seen it mentioned that some HUD places have some type of utility discount or rebate, but I do not know what this is. Hopefully someone else who knows more will come by and see this question.

      For seniors or disabled people, the 30% is after medical expenses, so it is sometimes significantly lower than 30%.


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