Government Subsidized Housing

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Elder Law Committee of the State Bar of Georgia
Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia
From the Georgia Handbook for Seniors
Last Revised: July 2004


A person lives in subsidized housing if the government pays part or all of the rent. There are several kinds of subsidized housing for people with low incomes. Generally, your rights and duties as a subsidized housing "tenant" are the same for any landlord-tenant relationship. However, you have some extra protections as a subsidized housing tenant.


One kind of subsidized housing is an apartment rented from a public housing authority. These apartments are usually in a housing project. To apply for this kind of housing, you must go to the public housing authority office in your area. In most areas, there will be a long wait to get an apartment. If you become a tenant of the public housing authority, you will pay no more than 30% of your income in rent. Your rent usually includes utilities.

Older tenants have some advantages in public housing. Some projects are only for elderly or disabled people. These projects are usually "high rises." The rent is probably lower than a younger person's rent because older tenants get an extra deduction. The public housing authority may provide extra services to help older tenants. For instance, they may provide services to help with cleaning.

If you are a public housing tenant, you may need to try to work out problems with the housing authority. You may use a process called a grievance procedure to resolve these problems. If you have a complaint, it may be wise first to discuss the matter with your project manager. If you are not satisfied after talking to the manager, you have a right to a grievance hearing before a committee. The committee may consist of a hearing officer or of fellow tenants. The committee will evaluate your complaint. Then, they will make a recommendation for action by the housing authority.

Normally, the public housing authority will raise your rent if your income goes up. If your income goes down, the housing authority must lower your rent. You must notify the housing authority of any change in your income. If you do not notify them of a change in your income, your failure is usually grounds for eviction. If you are on a fixed income, your rent should only be calculated once every year. If you think that your rent has been calculated the wrong way, you may ask for a hearing.

The public housing authority has the right to evict you for cause. You may be evicted for violating the terms of your lease. You may also be evicted for other "good cause" specified in the lease. Before going to court to try to evict you, the housing authority usually must allow you to have a grievance hearing. You must request the hearing in writing. You may choose anyone, including a lawyer, to represent you at the hearing.


Another kind of subsidized housing is rented from a private landlord but the government helps pay the rent. One example is "Section 8" voucher housing. In Section 8 voucher housing, you pay only about 30% of your income in rent. The government pays the rest of the rent to the landlord.

To be eligible for Section 8 voucher housing, you must meet the following requirements:

1. You must be age 62 or older, be disabled, or live with one or more family members.

2. Your income must not be greater than a certain amount. The income limits are different in different counties.

You may call the public housing authority to see if you are eligible for Section 8 voucher housing. You may also contact the regional office of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs ("DCA"). Call 1-800-359-4663 to find out where the DCA regional office is in your region. In most areas that offer Section 8 voucher housing, there is a very long waiting list.

If you are approved for Section 8 voucher housing, you may live in any house or apartment that takes part in the Section 8 program. The house or apartment must meet safety and construction standards. You may ask the public housing authority or DCA to help you find a Section 8 approved house or apartment. You may find your own house or apartment. If you do, you must ask the housing authority or DCA whether it meets the Section 8 standards.


In another kind of subsidized housing, the government pays the landlord rent for some or all units in an apartment complex. This type of housing is called project-based housing. Eligibility for this type of housing is based on income.

This kind of subsidized housing results in lower rent for tenants. The tenant pays rent based on a portion of his or her income. The amount of rent is generally 30% of a tenant's net income. Senior citizens may get some extra deductions.

Elder Law Committee of the State Bar of Georgia
Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia
From the Georgia Handbook for Seniors
Last Revised: July 2004


Last Review and Update: Aug 26, 2004