How to Use the HUD Map to Find Affordable Housing

Artwork: Robin Mead

The HUD map is the best, most comprehensive, and most accurate listing of affordable housing online. We wish this was not true, because the HUD map is a royal pain and hard to use!

However, if you are willing to be a bit patient and persistent, you will find better information here than anywhere else online.

Here’s some top secret, special tricks we learned the hard way (so you don’t have to!)

Where to Find The HUD Map

🌷 Here’s where you can HUD Map to search: HUD map website or HUD map app 

If The HUD Map Irritates or Confuses You

🌷 Try the special secret trick for turning the map into a printable list.

If the HUD Map Becomes Completely Unbearable

🌷 Give up on the HUD map and try Affordable Housing Online Directory

🌷 Warning: Fantastic website, but search feature is wonky. May not show all options.

🌷 They also have a cool list: Affordable Housing Email Alerts.

🌷 Warning: Fantastic email list, but not all openings are listed. We’ve found they post about 50% of openings.

If You Are Rural

🌷 If you live in a rural or remote area, and there is not a lot in your area, click the “+” or “-” signs to see neighboring towns and counties.

If You Live in a City

🌷 If you live in a big city, you may find the map overwhelming because there are too many options.

🌷 Try this: Do not click on “find affordable housing”. Instead, clicking on “find elderly and special needs housing.” This will show you a smaller selection of places that are more likely to be nicer and have open waiting lists.

🌷 Or try this: Zoom in on the map at just one section of the city at a time. Then try the special secret trick for making a printable list for that area. Then repeat in the next area.

If You Are a Disabled Adult

🌷 Make sure to call all housing opportunities marked “elderly” or “senior”. Ask them if they will accept younger people with disabilities. Some will say yes.

🌷 For these properties, at least one adult in the family must be disabled. Some do not accept children.

🌷 Many readers report that this is the easiest way to find nice housing with shorter wait lists. Learn more about: How to Find Yourself a Nice, Affordable HUD Apartment (for People with Disabilities)

If You Already Have a Voucher

🌷 Look at the PURPLE circles. These are buildings called “low income tax credit.” They have to accept vouchers. Many have wait lists.

🌷 If you are rural, also look for dark green circles. Many of these accept vouchers, but not all. Call and ask.

If You Do NOT Have a Housing Voucher

🌷 If you are very low income, look for all the ORANGE circles. These buildings have at least some subsidized apartments where rent can be very low, but they may not tell you this! When you call, no matter what rent they tell you, always ask: “Do you have any apartments where rent is set at 30% of income?”

🌷 Next look at the GREEN circles. These are properties in rural areas. Some of them have subsidized apartments and some don’t but again they may not tell you! Once again, always ask: “Do you have any apartments where rent is set at 30% of income?”

🌷 If you are somewhat low income, but not very low, also look at the PURPLE circles. These properties may be someone discounted (but not as cheap as the orange ones!) They may have income minimums. For example, a single person may need to have income of at least $1,000 per month to be eligible to apply.

🌷 Finally, look for the YELLOW circles. These are housing authorities where you can get on waiting lists for vouchers, or for public housing buildings.

What’s On the Map

If you are using the HUD map, and you select “Find affordable special needs housing.” You will be shown a selection of elderly or disabled buildings with very affordable rent. If you select “Find affordable housing housing opportunities” or “ALL resources” and you will be shown a mix of different options:

  • Elderly or disability HUD apartments – These are very affordable and sometimes quite nice.
  • Multifamily HUD apartments – These are a mix. Some are very affordable, some are lower than market rate, but still require income. Quality of housing varies.
  • Low Income Tax Credit apartments – These are private buildings where landlords got a tax discount in exchange for offering apartments at a lower rate. Despite the name, some of them are not for actual low income. They all accept Housing Vouchers.
  • 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.

Be Persistent. Very Persistent. 

What Do You Think? 

Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. 

Updated January 2019. If you found this page helpful, please share it with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons: 

23 thoughts on “How to Use the HUD Map to Find Affordable Housing”

  1. Why is it I’m trying to access the HUD map and it takes me to ” This site can’t be reached as with the site for elderly apartment search? has HUD also closed access to it? I have been searching for many months calling 40,50 leads a day and no luck at all! I’m I doing something wrong? I live in California (maybe the problem! ) I’m senior AND disabled and have had no luck at all. I live with a friend and have for over 5 yrs but, she has had to sell her home and move with family so, I must move and I feel so confused ?? on how to find even a studio apt.? I get the max.SSI but, it has gotten so expensive in the Los Angeles area, it is overwhelming!


    1. HUD map seems to be going down lately. It’s up at the moment.

      Sadly, I do think California is harder than other states. Depending on your timeline, it might help to look in other parts of the state, or other states.

      Hope you find something soon.


  2. The link for emotional support animal (under the heading Rosemary gets ) HUD Document (circle the place where it states that ESA count as assistance animals) is no longer working.


    1. HI Kim, We fixed the link and also added this sample language in case helpful

      Sample language: I am submitting my request for disability medical expense deductions for my emotional support animal. A copy of my doctor’s letter prescribing my emotional support animal is enclosed. Please process my request in accordance with HUD FHEO Notice: FHEO-2013-01 which states: “Persons with disabilities may request a reasonable accommodation for any assistance animal, including an emotional support animal, under both the FHAct and Section 504.” and HUD Occupancy Handbook Exhibit 5-3, which lists “assistance animal and it’s upkeep” as a medical expense deduction. 


  3. I looked at the map and found lots of places (graphical and list format). As I understand it, I have to contact each and every single one of them separately. How should I begin the conversations with landlords/management?
    Before I waste any time/effort is there any kind of central application I need to do somewhere?


    1. Hi Brian,

      Good questions. There is no central application that I am aware of. Unfortunately.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about the conversation. They get tons of calls every day and won’t remember you. I would just be polite, say I am interested in finding out more about their housing, and would like to ask a few questions.

      You’ll get a lot of dead ends, but if one out of ten calls gives you a good lead that is good! Hope it goes great. 🌷


  4. I would like to know if there are certain risks I need to take into account when I apply to multiple waiting lists. For instance, I have found it next to impossible to actually find much information about any specific place that is a subsidized apartment when it comes to the details of the actual building, such as if it is an old building that does not even have a circuit board within its apartments.Have others found that they can at least somehow preview the interiors of the places they sign up for?

    The other concern I have is as to if I would be able to cancel my application somewhere without incurring any penalty. Either because of a problem like the one explained above, or more importantly because other places will tell me that there is now an opening for me in their building after I have already been accepted into one of the HUD apartments among the many I have signed up for in an attempt to get a home to live in faster.


    1. Hi Lucia,

      I have never heard of any risks or penalties, but you’d probably need to check with each place you apply if you want to be sure.

      Usually if you get offered a place and turn it down, there are no problems, they just take you off the waiting list, and you can reapply if you want.

      I think they will let you preview a place once it is available for you. If you want to see the inside of an apartment earlier, you can check with the building manager and see if they are able/willing.

      Keep us posted on how it goes! 🙂


    2. My sister works for DHHS in North Carolina. They are currently compiling a list of which Section 8 waiting lists are open and when, and how to get on waiting lists for properties. She is sharing that with me. I plan on asking her if this is something most state agencies would put together. It might be worth a call to DHHS in your area to ask if they have a master list. It’s bound to be a lot more accurate than the websites and HUD map.


  5. 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%.


    2. HUD has a specific way that subsidized apartments are supposed to calculate your rent. It goes something like this:
      – Calculate the total Gross Annual Income for the household (example: one person on SSI with no other income would be just their monthly SSI x 12) Food Stamps and other non-cash benefits are not included as income.
      – Subtract the Disability Allowance if the renter qualifies (this is $435/yr.)
      – Subtract any allowed medical deductions (I believe the total has to be over a certain amount)
      – Divide by 12 to get the Adjusted Monthly Gross Income
      – Multiply by .3 to get your 30% for rent
      – Subtract the official HUD Utility Allowance that applies (there may be amounts for gas &/or electric, water/sewer, even garbage, depending on what is tenant-paid). This “UA” may be more than your actual utility cost. If it is less, though, you can request an adjustment based on your actual utility bill averages.
      – This now your actual “TTP” (Total Tenant Payment) and it often comes out to be around 25% of your Gross!


  6. 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.

    Liked by 1 person

    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.

        Liked by 1 person

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