Boston Housing Authority

For Applicants > How Do I Apply for BHA Housing?

How Do I Apply For BHA Housing?

Application Process

Boston Housing Authority (BHA) processes over 10,000 new applications every year. There are thousands more applicants than there are available housing units – so the waiting lists can be very long. It is difficult to predict the time between applying and receiving a housing offer.

After the application is submitted, there is a personal interview process. At that time, BHA will be better able to estimate your waiting time. The waiting period can depend on many things including current housing situation, priorities and preferences. Based on these considerations, some applicants may get a housing offer earlier than others.

BHA does not provide immediate housing, nor does it provide short-term or shelter housing.

Step 1: Determine Your Eligibility

Housing eligibility varies by program. Read the Housing Eligibility section for program requirements.

Step 2: Find the Location(s) Where You Want to Live

BHA strongly encourages visiting the neighborhoods and properties in order to make the right decision for yourself and your family. Learn more about the Public Housing and Leased Housing/Section 8 Rental Assistance communities you might like to live in.

Use this tool to get a general sense of the communities which might be appropriate for your family.

Don’t apply for a community in which you don’t want to live!  If you reject an offer of housing, you won’t get another choice.

Step 3: Attend an Application Briefing Session

To apply for housing with BHA, you must attend one of our Informational Application Briefing Sessions. Briefings are held in the John F. Murphy Housing Service Center at 56 Chauncy Street, Downtown Boston.

Briefings are held Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 11 a.m. and are open to any interested applicants. You do not need to reserve a spot. Please arrive 15 minutes early. If you would like to complete your application during the briefing, please make sure that you have brought all necessary documents and information. Due to limited space, only one person per household may attend, unless you are attending with an interpreter.

If you cannot attend for a medical reason, an application can be mailed to you. You must provide a written statement from your medical care provider outlining the reason you are unable to apply in person.

Come prepared. Be sure to bring these items with you.

Step 4. Submit Your Application

You may submit your application after attending the Application Briefing Session. If you need more time to collect information, you can return your application on any Tuesday or Wednesday from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at:

Boston Housing Authority
John F. Murphy Housing Service Center
56 Chauncy Street
Boston, MA 02111
First Floor




In order to apply for most Leased Housing/Section 8 Rental Assistance programs, applicants must qualify for Priority One status.

Review the Section 8/Leased Housing priorities and preferences, and/or the Public Housing priorities and preferences to determine which might apply to your situation. You will be required to verify these priority and preference statuses.


Step 5: Confirmation of Preliminary Eligibility

Your application will be processed within 12 weeks of submitting it to BHA. You will receive a preliminary eligibility letter stating the waiting lists on which your household has been placed. This letter will also list the priorities and preferences which you claimed, and your unique client number.

Here are some things to consider when apply for housing at BHA.

Step 6: Final Eligibility Screening

When you reach this step (referred to as “screening” or “determination of final eligibility” by BHA), BHA will mail you a letter with an interview date and time. This letter will outline the required forms to be completed and a list of verifying documents to bring to the interview. You are required to bring the completed and signed forms to the interview which will be reviewed by the assigned BHA staff with the applicant.

Section 5.3 of the BHA's Administrative Plan provides a detailed description of the final eligibility screening process for Section 8/Leased Housing programs.

Section 5.3 of the BHA's Admissions and Continued Occupancy Plan provides a detailed description of the final eligibility screening process for Public Housing programs.

Step 7: Receiving a Housing Offer

Public Housing: Once an appropriate Public Housing unit is available, you will receive a written housing offer with a response deadline by which you must accept or reject the offer. You will have the opportunity to view the apartment and meet the site staff prior to accepting an offer.

Project-Based or Moderate Rehabilitation: When you receive an offer for the Project-Based Voucher or Moderate Rehabilitation programs, you will be required to contact the owner or manager to participate in their screening process. If you fail to respond to the owner or manager to schedule their screening interview, or to complete the owner’s screening process, or you reject the housing offer, your application will be withdrawn from all Project-Based and Moderate Rehabilitation waiting lists.

Tenant-Based Voucher Programs (currently closed): When you receive a housing voucher, you attend a briefing on using the voucher and finding an apartment. You have 120 days to locate suitable housing. When you find a unit and reach an agreement with the landlord over the lease terms, BHA will inspect the apartment and determine if the rent requested is reasonable. Once BHA approves your apartment, you and the landlord sign a lease. At the same time, the landlord and BHA sign a housing assistance payments contract (HAP) that runs for the same term as the lease. If this process is not completed within 120 days of the voucher being issued to you, the voucher will expire.

Checking the Status of Your Application

The waiting time to begin the screening or final eligibility process varies from 10 weeks to over five years from your date of application, depending on the number of bedrooms and type of unit your household requires, your priority and preference points, and the number of units at the communities you have selected. A community’s waiting list may range from 1,200 to 13,000 applicants.

It is impossible to identify what number families rank on the waiting lists as this number may vary daily. Therefore, BHA may only provide a rough estimate of when a family might be selected for the final eligibility screening process.

Applicants may check their application status by calling the Status Information Line at (617) 988-3400, or visiting the Housing Service Center (56 Chauncy Street, Boston, MA 02111) Monday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Updating Your Application

You are required to inform BHA in writing of any change that may affect the status of your application. Changes can include

Submit any changes by mail or in person to BHA Housing Service Center at 56 Chauncy Street, Boston, MA 02111. Include your client number or Social Security number to ensure the correct file record is updated. BHA’s Housing Service Center is open Monday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Appeal Rights

If an applicant is determined not eligible for the claimed priority, preference or housing, the applicant has the right to file an appeal with BHA. For more information on filing an appeal, applicants may contact BHA's Office of Grievances and Appeals at (617) 988-4579.