FAQ Applicants

Check Your Status and Report Changes

Can I add or remove development choices while I’m on the waiting list?

Applicants may add or remove developments choices at any time prior to entering the final eligibility screening process except for reasonable accommodation and/or extenuating circumstances which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Once the applicant is contacted by the BHA to schedule the personal interview appointment no changes in development choice(s) shall be accepted. Applicants are encouraged to visit the public housing developments before applying or before entering the final screening process to ensure they have selected developments where they want to reside.

How can I review my file information?

The applicant file may be reviewed by the applicant or any individual(s) authorized by the applicant in writing. The applicant file for all public housing programs may be reviewed by calling the Occupancy Department at (617) 988-4542 or (617) 988-4549 to schedule a file review appointment. The file review will be schedule at 52 Chauncy Street with an Occupancy Department staff on the 3rd floor or the Legal Department staff on the 10th floor.

How can I check my status during the application process?

The waiting time to begin the screening or final eligibility process varies from ten 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 AM to 5 PM. 

Grievances and Appeals

Who should I contact if I have questions about the appeal process or hearing?

All inquiries should be directed to the front desk at the Department of Grievances and Appeals on the 9th floor at 617-988-4579.  Do not attempt to contact the Hearing Officer.

What if I need to reschedule the hearing?

The DGA grants rescheduling requests only for “good cause” (public housing applicant, public housing, and leased housing termination appeals) or “compelling circumstances” (Section 8 applicant appeals)  Some examples are circumstances related to a disability, medical emergencies, medical treatments or important appointments that cannot be rescheduled such as court appearances. Transportation issues or other mere inconveniences will not be considered good cause to reschedule.  You must submit a written request to reschedule as soon as possible but no later than 24 hours prior to your scheduled hearing time. Your must specify the reason(s) that you need to reschedule and submit third-party documentation to verify the need to reschedule. For example, if you cannot attend the hearing because your place of employment will not excuse your absence, you must submit documentation from your employer to verify this.

NOTE: If your request to reschedule an informal applicant hearing is received less than twelve days prior to the hearing date and is approved for rescheduling, your hearing will go to the back of the scheduling queue.

What if I arrive late or miss the hearing?

Tardiness or failure to appear may result in a Default being issued, which would result in the decision of the Occupancy Department/Leased Housing Division being upheld. The hearing will be rescheduled if “good cause” or “compelling circumstances” prevented you from attending on time. This must be verified in writing by a third party. For example, if you miss the hearing due to a medical emergency, you must submit documentation from the medical provider to verify the date and time that you experienced the emergency and received treatment.  Transportation or parking delays/problems will not be considered a compelling circumstance—you should plan your travel time with the expectation that you will be delayed due to traffic congestion, public transportation delays, or inability to quickly find a parking spot. 

If you are late or miss your public housing grievance panel hearing, the Grievance Panel will review your request to reschedule and make a decision as soon as possible.

What if I need an interpreter for the hearing?

You should request an interpreter by filling out the enclosed Interpreter Request Form and returning it to the Department of Grievances and Appeals prior to your hearing date. The BHA will provide an interpreter at no cost to you.  Your family member, friend, or advocate will not be permitted to interpret for you.

What should I bring with me to the hearing?

You should bring any documents that relate to the action you are appealing. For example, if you were denied homelessness priority status, you should bring documents relating to your homelessness, such as shelter letters.  You may also bring any other supporting documentation such as letters of recommendation, documentation relating to your disability, and witnesses who are able to provide relevant information regarding the action you are appealing.  Be aware that if you do not have all relevant documents at the time of the hearing, the Hearing Officer may not grant you additional time to submit them. You should make every effort to prepare for the hearing by gathering all relevant documents.

Can I bring anyone to the hearing with me?

Yes. You may bring an advocate, attorney, case manager, or any other person you wish to represent you or help you during the hearing. You may also bring any person for “moral support,” such as a friend or family member. If you cannot arrange for child care, you may bring your child(ren). However, be aware that children will be expected to remain quiet during the hearing and that matters discussed during the hearing may not be appropriate for all children to hear.

What if my disability would prevent me from coming to the hearing or fully participating in the hearing?

If your disability would prevent or impede your ability to physically attend the hearing, or if your disability would prevent or impede your participation in the hearing, you have the right to request a Reasonable Accommodation. You must request a Reasonable Accommodation in writing, specifying the reason(s) you need an accommodation and what accommodation you are seeking. You may deliver this request to the Department of Grievances and Appeals at any time prior to your hearing. The BHA may contact you to request additional information.

What will the hearing be like?

The hearing will take place in an office or conference room. In addition to you and your witnesses or representatives, one or more representatives of the BHA’s Leased Housing Division or Occupancy Department may be present. The hearing will be presided over by a Hearing Officer.  The hearing is your opportunity to present your case. Specifically, you should be prepared to explain why you disagree with the decision that was made regarding your application and present all supporting documents and witnesses. The Hearing Officer will likely ask you questions and you may also ask any questions that you have. Although you will be granted a full opportunity to present your case, be aware that disruptive or disorderly behavior will not be permitted and may result in the termination of the hearing, which could then result in the decision of the Occupancy Department/Leased Housing Division being upheld.  If there are any documents that were not available for the hearing, the Hearing Officer may grant an extension for submission of additional documents. If this occurs, you will be given detailed information during the hearing about how you should proceed.

What if my disability relates to the action(s) taken against my application?

If you have a disability that relates to the reason you were found ineligible for assistance or priority status or the reason your application was withdrawn, you have the right to request a Reasonable Accommodation. You must request a Reasonable Accommodation in writing, specifying the reason(s) you need an accommodation and what accommodation you are seeking. You may deliver this request to the Department of Grievances and Appeals at any time prior to your hearing. The BHA may contact you to request additional information.

When will a decision be made and who decides?

After the hearing and the conclusion of any extension period, the Hearing Officer will review all documents submitted, the testimony of any witnesses, and all of the statements you made during the hearing. The Hearing Officer will also review all applicable BHA policies and Federal and/or Massachusetts regulations to determine whether to uphold or reverse the decision made regarding your application. A written decision should be mailed within 3 weeks of the hearing date or conclusion of the extension period. After a decision is made, do not attempt to contact the Hearing Officer—you will not be permitted to speak with him/her.  Any inquiries should be directed to the Department of Grievances and Appeals front desk at 617-988-4579.

Housing Options & Eligibility

Who is eligible for housing assistance?

Please refer to the Housing Eligibility page for a complete list of requirements.

What housing options can I apply to?

Applicants may apply to one or all waiting lists for which they meet the preliminary requirements. See Housing Eligibility to determine if you’re eligible.

Note: The Section 8 tenant-based voucher program waiting list is currently closed. New applicants may apply to public housing programs, the Project-Based voucher program and the Mod Rehab program. Project Based Voucher and Mod Rehab applicants must qualify for Priority One status.

Can single applicants choose between a studio and 1-bedroom unit?

A head and spouse will share a 1-bedroom unit unless there are documented reasons why they must have separate bedrooms. New admissions single individuals will be assigned to a studio or 1-BR unit, whichever unit size is first available, unless the applicant documents why he/she must reside in a 1-BR unit only. The BHA will be implementing the option for single individuals to choose to be on a waiting list for just one option (either studio or 1-BR). Transfer applicants within the public housing program who consist of one household member will be assigned to a 1-BR unit.

What is the Section 8 program?

Section 8, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, provides rent subsidies to assist eligible low-income families obtain decent, safe, and affordable housing. Families can select housing within a neighborhood of their choice in privately owned housing and receive rental assistance. Rent subsidies, called vouchers, allow families to pay a reasonable share of their income toward rent while the program. BHA pays the other portion. The term “Section 8” is used because the federal law which created the program is Section 8 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974. This is one of the many BHA housing programs.

What public housing options are there in Boston?

The BHA's public housing options come in all sizes and types, from scattered single family houses to high-rise apartments for elderly and non-elderly families located throughout the City of Boston, which includes the neighborhoods of Allston, Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Brighton, Charlestown, Chinatown, Dorchester, Downtown, East Boston, Fenway-Kenmore, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Mission Hill, North End, Roslindale, Roxbury, South Boston, South End and West Roxbury.

See a map of all public housing units.

What options are there for wheelchair accessible housing?

If you are interested in BHA housing and require a wheelchair accessible unit, please complete the BHA's Preliminary Application and indicate who in your household composition requires a wheelchair accessible unit. We will enter these applications as soon as they are received and clients will be placed into the final eligibility screening process once the Preliminary Application has been entered to our database.

Wheelchair-accessible public units are equipped with a roll-under stove and sink. Bathrooms are fully wheelchair accessible, and a limited number of apartments are equipped with roll-in showers. Clients should apply as soon as possible in order to have their housing eligibility determined before the wheelchair accessible units become available. 

Who is eligible for Family Public Housing?

Anyone may apply for family public housing. However, certain income limits, the BHA Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP) and either state or federal regulations govern those who are determined eligible for this housing program.

Who is eligible for Elderly/Disabled Public Housing?

State funded developments require applicants to be 60 or older and/or disabled. Federal developments require applicants to be 62 or older and/or disabled. Those who need more than 2 bedrooms, as defined by BHA regulations and state occupancy laws, cannot apply for the elderly/disabled housing program. There are also income limits for all developments. The BHA Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP) and either state or federal regulations govern who eligible for this housing program.

Who is eligible for the Grandparents Housing Program?

Those age 60 and older and/or disabled with legal custody of 1 or 2 grandchildren of the same gender are eligible to apply for the BHA's Grandparents Housing Program. The apartments, 12 two-bedroom townhouses and 3 single-level units, are located at BHA’s Franklin Field development in Dorchester. One unit is wheelchair-accessible. BHA residents and applicants are welcome to apply. Applicants must be income eligible for the state-assisted housing program. The BHA Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP) and either state or federal regulations govern those who are eligible for this housing program.

If you are not a BHA resident or your name is not currently on a BHA public housing waiting list, you are required to fill out the preliminary application and submit it with the Grandparents Housing form. BHA residents must complete the form and a transfer request with management. Applicants for the Grandparents Housing Program should apply for the elderly/disabled public housing and include this form.

Preferences & Priorities

What is the Designated Housing Plan?

The Designated Housing Plan provides the basis for the allocation of housing units in the Federal Elderly/Disabled Housing Program portfolio. The units are allocated to applicants in a manner that allows movement toward a resident population that is 80% elderly (62 years old or older) and 20% non-elderly disabled (under 62 years of age) in each development.  Developments are termed “Elderly designated” if the elderly resident population is less than 80%.   In “Elderly designated” developments elderly applicants receive extra points to improve their waiting list position.  This will result, over time, in an increased elderly resident population until we reach the 80% goal.  

The Plan was developed in accordance with Section 10a of the “Housing Opportunity Program Extension Act of 1996” and with HUD Notice PIH 97-12 issued March 12, 1997 and HUD Notice PIH 2005-2 issued January 5, 2005.  Many discussions were held with residents and advocates prior to submitting a draft of the new Plan.  The Boston Housing Authority’s new Designated Housing Plan was approved on June 25, 2015. 

How does a development become "Designated"?

Federal developments in the Elderly/Disabled Program with fewer than 80% elderly residents are identified on a regular basis, by the Boston Housing Authority's MIS Department. These developments become “Elderly” designated. Applicants for Elderly/Disabled developments can adjust their waiting list choices at any time. The developments become “Elderly” designated when the site is occupied by less than the 80% elderly (62 years of age or older) ratio. This ratio changes as residents move-in and/or vacate each site. In accordance with the approved Plan, the population occupying wheelchair accessible units will not be included when determining the designations.

Is the Designated Housing Plan used to allocate units in all developments?

No.  It is not used in developments in the Family Housing Program.  The 80% elderly to 20% non-elderly disabled allocation is used only in the Federal Elderly/Disabled Program developments.  In Federal Elderly/Disabled developments where the elderly resident population is less than 80%, the development is “Elderly” designated.  In such an “Elderly” designated development, elderly applicants are awarded points to improve their waiting list positions.  In developments where the elderly resident population is 80% or more, no extra Designated Housing Plan points are awarded to the elderly. If the developments are under 20% non-elderly disabled populated, the development will be “Non-Elderly Disabled” designated and the non-elderly applicants including non-elderly disabled transfer applicants will be awarded “Non-Elderly Disabled” designated preference points. Applicants and Transfer Applicants requiring a wheelchair accessible unit will not be awarded “designation” preference points.   In state-aided Elderly/Disabled developments non-elderly disabled residents are limited to 13.5% of the total development population.

What is the procedure for the allocation of vacant units to applicants under the Designated Housing Plan?

The Boston Housing Authority Elderly/Disabled Program maintains a HUD-approved site based waiting list system. Every Elderly/Disabled development has separate waiting lists for studio/1 bedroom units and for a very few existing 2 bedroom units.  These lists are ranked by Priority and/or Preference points and date of application. Applicants receive points if qualified for Priority (such as lacking housing due to fire, domestic violence, eviction, etc.) and/or Preferences (such as being a Veteran, a resident of Boston, etc.).  In addition, elderly applicants (age 62 or older) on a waiting list for an “Elderly designated" development receive extra points as a result of the Designated Housing Plan.  This has the effect of moving them above non-elderly disabled applicants who share the same date of application. Non-elderly disabled applicants (under 62 years of age) on a waiting list for a “Non-Elderly Disabled designated” development receive extra points as a result of the Designated Housing Plan.  This has the effect of moving them above elderly applicants who share the same date of application.
Unit vacancies are allocated, as they occur, to the screened and approved applicant who holds the oldest application date and highest ranked position on the appropriate waiting list. In that instance, the appropriate unit type and bedroom size required will be assigned. 
The Boston Housing Authority also has units under its Supported Housing Programs. Persons seeking housing under these programs apply through the providers for those programs. The providers submit the applications to the Occupancy Department so they may be screened for the specific Supported Housing program.  These units are mainly for persons with disabilities who require supportive services as well as shelter.  

What options are available to Non-Elderly Disabled Applicants waiting on an “Elderly” Designated Development waiting list?

Applicants on any Elderly/Disabled Development waiting list can opt to wait for other developments by adjusting their own development choices. For example, non-elderly disabled applicants can choose to be on a list at a development where the “Elderly” Designated Housing Plan does not provide extra designated points to the elderly, i.e. where the elderly resident population is 80% or higher, or can select Family Developments.

When non-elderly disabled applicants who are waiting on an “Elderly” designated list become 62 years old, they will be considered an elderly applicant and will receive additional points, thus improving their waiting list ranking and they will lose the “Non-Elderly Disabled” designated awarded points for the waiting lists under 20% non-elderly disabled populated. The non-elderly disabled applicants who qualify for a priority one status may also elect to apply for the BHA’s Section 8 Housing Choice Project-Based Voucher and Moderate Rehabilitation waiting lists of choice. The non-elderly disabled applicants may also be eligible to apply for Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher from a special set-aside created by the Plan if they are bypassed consistent with the applicant selection rules implementing the HUD-approved Plan. The BHA will notify in writing any non-elderly disabled applicants who are bypassed when they become eligible to apply for the special-purpose Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher. Only households that complete the Section 8 Tenant-Based Voucher application may be issued a voucher from the set-aside.  

In order to reduce the concentrations of non-elderly disabled residents in “Elderly designated” developments, and to accommodate the desire of some of the younger disabled residents to live in a more mixed environment, transfers to the Family Program are available. Non-elderly disabled residents who reside in Elderly/Disabled developments will receive Emergency Transfer status if they choose to move to a unit in the Family Program.  In addition, elderly (62 years of age or older) residents who reside in Family developments and want to transfer to Elderly/Disabled developments 

Reasonable Accommodation

What is “reasonable accommodation”?

Reasonable accommodations refers to BHA’s commitment to provide clients with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the BHA’s housing and programs. The BHA’s goal is to provide stable, quality, affordable housing to low- and moderate-income persons regardless of disability. Read more about reasonable accommodations.

Who Qualifies for a Reasonable Accommodation?

In order to qualify for a reasonable accommodation, a Client must be an “otherwise qualified individual with a disability.” 

What is considered to be a disability?

Under state and federal law, a disability is a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

What are some examples of mental or physical impairments?

Examples of mental or physical impairments include, but are not limited to,  diseases and conditions including: orthopedic, visual, speech and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection, mental retardation, emotional illness, drug addiction (other than addiction caused by current, illegal use of a controlled substance) and alcoholism. 

What are “major life activities”?

Examples of major life activities include, but are not limited to, the ability to walk, see, hear, breathe, think, read, or care for oneself.

What does “otherwise qualified” mean?

An “otherwise qualified” individual with a disability is a person with a disability who is able to meet essential BHA program eligibility and requirements with or without a reasonable accommodation.
For example, if a Client is having difficulty complying with his or her program obligations, and it’s due to a disability, the Client may request that the BHA take the disability into consideration and work with the Client to find an arrangement that allows him or her to comply. 

Does the requested accommodation need to be related to the disability?

Yes.  There is a requirement that the requested accommodation may be necessary to provide you with an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the BHA’s housing and programs. This relationship between the disability and accommodation is referred to as a “nexus.”

Does BHA always have the right to ask for verification of my disability and needs?

Not always, but the BHA does have the right to request information if it:

  • Is necessary to verify that the Client meets the definition of a person with a disability;
  • Describes the needed accommodation; and
  • Shows the relationship between the person’s disability and the need for the requested accommodation. 

Can the forms still help me even if my disability and needs are apparent?

Yes. The forms, particularly the Certification of Need, provide questions that may remind you or your medical professional or qualified service provider of additional needs that the BHA might be able to address. 

Where can I get the forms other than on this website?

You may pick up the forms at:

  • The John F. Murphy Housing Service Center at 56 Chauncy Street, Boston, MA 02111
  • The Public Housing developments’ management offices.
  • The Occupancy Department at 52 Chauncy Street, Floor 3, Boston, MA 02111
  • The Leased Housing Department at 52 Chauncy Streets, Floor 4 or 5, Boston, MA 02111
  • The BHA Office of Civil Rights at 52 Chauncy Street, Floor 9, Boston, MA 02111

To request a form by mail, call the Office of Civil Rights’ Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator at 617-988-4377 (TDD: 800-545-1833 x420).

If you need assistance or an accommodation (for example, a screen reader or sign language interpreter) to complete the forms, contact the Office of Civil Rights’ Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator at 617-988-4377 (TDD: 800-545-1833 x420).

When are Requests for Reasonable Accommodations Granted?

In general, BHA must grant an accommodation unless the Client requesting it is not an otherwise-qualified individual with a disability, there is no nexus, or the request is not reasonable.

When is a request not reasonable?

A request is not reasonable if it would result in an undue financial or administrative burden for the BHA or it would create a fundamental alteration in a BHA program. 

Examples of reasonable requests:

In the Public Housing program, it might be reasonable to lower the cabinets for someone in a wheelchair, put grab bars in the bathroom for someone with a mobility impairment, or put in a flashing fire alarm for someone who has a hearing impairment.  It might also be reasonable to allow a person with a mental disability to have rent payments made by a third party.
In a Leased Housing program, it might be reasonable to increase a participant’s voucher amount so that he or she might find a home that meets his or her needs.  It also might be reasonable to increase a voucher’s bedroom size to allow a live-in personal care assistant to live with the participant.
Examples of unreasonable requests:

It would not be reasonable for the BHA to prevent children from using a development playground because the noise bothers a person with a disability or to have the BHA pay for a Client’s personal care attendant or personal medical devices.

How does the BHA address Reasonable Accommodation Requests?

Under disability law, the BHA must engage in an interactive process with you while reviewing your request.  This means that the BHA will work with you in a cooperative way to try to find a resolution to your needs.
Once enough information is available, the appropriate BHA staff person for your program will review and decide upon your request.  If additional information is needed to make a decision, you will receive a written request.  You should be careful to follow any deadlines in the letter.

You may request a meeting to discuss your request.

As part of the interactive process, either you or BHA staff may request a meeting to discuss the requested accommodation. Any meeting will be held at a location that is accessible to you. You may have a friend or advocate with you at the meeting. You may also request an accommodation for the meeting. 

When will I receive a decision on my Reasonable Accommodation request?

The BHA will issue a written decision thirty (30) days from either the date of the request, or the date all the necessary information is received. Whether your request is approved or denied, you will be notified in writing.

How is my Reasonable Accommodation request reviewed in the context of other requests?

The BHA considers each request for reasonable accommodation as a separate request. Just because one person had a change approved or denied in the past does not mean that all requests for that type of change will be approved or denied. The decision will be made on a case-by-case basis with the understanding that each person’s needs and circumstances are unique.

Does the BHA have to grant me the specific Reasonable Accommodation I have requested?

No. If your request is not reasonable, the BHA will propose an accommodation that tries to meet your needs as effectively as possible.
Also, if your request is reasonable, but there is a less burdensome but equally effective accommodation available, the BHA may offer you that accommodation instead.

What If I Disagree with the BHA's Reasonable Accommodation Decision?

Appeal rights

If the BHA denies your request or approves it, but you disagree with the way in which it was approved, you may submit a written request for an appeal with the Department of Grievances and Appeals within twenty (20) days of the date of denial.

Remedies available besides appealing a decision

If at any time you think your request is not being processed appropriately, you have the right to file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights or call the 24-Hour Civil Rights Hotline at 617-695-3531.
In addition, you have a right to seek assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.  View their contact information

Receiving an Offer or Rejection

What happens if I reject a housing offer?

If the applicant rejects the housing offer, the application will be withdrawn from all waiting lists if he/she had been offered an apartment as a priority applicant. The applicant will be able to re-apply; however, he/she will lose the priority status and any approved preferences for one year. If the applicant who rejected the housing offer was a nonpriority applicant, he/she will be withdrawn only from the waiting list for the development he/she rejected the housing offer.

What happens if I don’t complete the final screening process?

Failure to complete the final screening process or accept a housing offer at a development you had selected will result in your application being withdrawn from all BHA public housing waiting lists and you will need to re-apply with a new application date. Therefore, you may wait again for an extensive period.

I was determined not eligible for housing assistance. Can I appeal?

If an applicant is determined not eligible for housing, the applicant has the right to file an appeal with the BHA. For more information on filing an appeal, applicants may call the BHA Office of Grievances and Appeals.

Screening / Application Questions

What is screening?

Screening is a process of identifying and verifying if an applicant will be a suitable participant able to comply with the BHA housing program requirements in accordance with the BHA’s Administrative Plan and any regulations established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The applicant is interviewed and the third party verification is obtained to determine if the applicant and household members meet the BHA policies and any applicable federal regulations for the housing program(s) for which the applicant has applied.

For tenant-based voucher programs, the private property owner is also responsible for screening applicants to determine if they meet their housing program eligibility requirements.

What criteria are used during screening?

Information considered in completing the applicant screening is used to assess the conduct of the applicant and other household members listed on the application, in their present and/or prior housing. The BHA will reject an applicant that it has reasonable cause to believe will violate the terms of his/her lease, adversely interfere with other residents, cause damage to the property or participate in illegal activities.

For the Section 8 program, you must be a Priority One applicant, you must be income eligible (based on income limits set by HUD), at least one member of your household must have eligible immigration status and everyone in your household age 14 and over must successfully pass a CORI check.

See full details about screening criteria for public housing and voucher programs.

How do I apply for BHA housing?

Read more about the Application Process page for an overview of the steps and requirements.

How long does the application process take?

The waiting time to near the top of a waiting list to begin the final eligibility determination process varies. It depends on the bedroom size required, priority and preference points and the number of units that exist at the developments/sites selected. The waiting time to begin the final eligibility determination process varies from 10 weeks to over 5 years from your date of application. Applicants requiring wheelchair accessible units are ranked on the waiting list(s) of choice where wheelchair accessible units exist.

What is the average number of people waiting for a particular site?

The waiting lists are ranked by bedroom size required and by priority and preference points for each development/site. The total number of applicants on a development’s waiting lists ranges from 1,200 to over 13,000. The applicants may apply to one or all waiting lists for which they meet the preliminary requirements. Applicants who apply to multiple waiting lists may have different ranking positions for each waiting list.

When will I be called in for screening?

You will be called in for screening when you near the top of a waiting list for a development of your choice. Depending on the development size, bedroom size required, unit turnover, acceptance rate, historical applicant response and successful completion of the screening process, the BHA contacts applicants to schedule the required personal interview to complete the final eligibility determination screening process. It is the BHA’s goal to successfully process and approve qualified applicants who will be ready and available for each reported vacancy.

What should I bring to the final screening?

Applicants should bring the completed Final Application Form and the following verifying documents:

  • Birth certificate or adoption documents (original copy for all household members)
  • Social Security card or documentation that a card has not been issued (original copy for all household members)
  • Picture identification of head of household and co-head if applicable (original copy)
  • Appropriate documentation of United States citizenship or eligible non-citizenship status (original copy for all household members)
  • Documentation of guardianship, if applicable (original copy)
  • Proof of annual income for all household members
  • Proof of assets for all household members
  • Proof of income exclusions and deductions for all household members, if applicable
  • Verification of veteran status, if applicable (original copy)
  • Verification of Boston residency, if applicable
  • Names, addresses and phone numbers of landlords and/or housing providers for the last three years for all household members
  • Documentation of the need for any specialized housing accommodations


What if my circumstance changes after I apply?

If your situation, including changes to family composition, changes after you submit your transfer request you should immediately report the change to the Transfer Process Coordinator.  

If you are a victim of additional incidents in the case of domestic violence, civil rights problems or other threatening situations, you should contact the police at 9-1-1. You should also contact your housing manager or the Office of Civil Rights.

What if I refuse the transfer?

If you reject a transfer offer without Good Cause and/or reasonable accommodation mitigation, you cannot apply for the same transfer type for one year from the date of the rejection. You will be informed of the right to appeal any negative decision. 

Transferring within a development vs. transferring to another development

If the transfer is to a different development, the resident will be an “Internal Applicant.” Internal applicants must successfully complete the final eligibility screening process. This process checks the criminal record for all household members ages 14 and older.

What is “Good Cause”?

This is when the resident documents "clear evidence that acceptance of a given offer will result in unusual or undue hardship or handicap” (for example, night shift employment and inaccessibility to public transportation). 
Documenting Good Cause must occur as part of your transfer application. BHA looks very carefully at Good Cause requests and the Transfer Review Committee may agree to a transfer but may not agree to Good Cause status. 

Are there any transfer requirements in the BHA Lease?

Yes, residents who are over- or under-housed or residing in a wheelchair accessible unit and do not require these features will be subject to legal action for rejecting a housing offer of a unit of appropriate size and type. In addition, over-housed residents in the state-aided developments are required to move, and will be required to pay 150% of their monthly rent if they reject a housing offer to a unit of appropriate size and type.

Are there any transfer requirements in the BHA Lease?

Yes, residents who are over- or under-housed or residing in a wheelchair accessible unit and do not require these features will be subject to legal action for rejecting a housing offer of a unit of appropriate size and type. In addition, over-housed residents in the state-aided developments are required to move, and will be required to pay 150% of their monthly rent if they reject a housing offer to a unit of appropriate size and type.

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