How Do I Apply For BHA Housing?

Application Process

Boston Housing Authority (BHA) processes over 10,000 new applications every year. There are thousands of more applicants than there are available housing units – so the selected waiting lists can be very long. For more information about availability click here.
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. Your application will be removed from all waiting lists selected.

Step 3: Watch an Application Briefing Video

We encourage you to watch the following video before deciding to apply for the BHA's housing programs.

Step 4:  Complete the BHA Application

Apply here for state funded public housing in cities and towns across Massachusetts!  This is a two step process. First, complete the CHAMP application. Second, to include BHA state and/or federally funded sites in your choices, click on View Boston Housing at Boston Housing Authorityand follow the instructions. If you don't complete the second step, it means you have not applied for any of the BHA housing programs. BHA currently has an extremely long waiting list and has no immediately available housing. To apply through the Online CHAMP application click HERE
This new online system was created by the Department of Housing and Community Development and is known as the Common Housing Application for Massachusetts Public-Housing (CHAMP). 

A Message for Visitors to Boston Housing Authority Offices at 52 and 56 Chauncy Street, Boston, MA

Due to evolving news of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the Boston Housing Authority offices at 52-56 Chauncy Street are closed to the public until further notice in order to limit in-person contact and protect our clients, residents and staff.  Essential services will continue according to the below instructions. (Message in
Spanish, Chinese, Haitian Creole)

Applicants:  Applicants may print a CHAMP/BHA application from the link
here, or request a mailed copy or check the status of a current application by calling the status Line at (617) 988-3400, Monday-Friday between 9:00AM and 5:00PM.

Applications should be submitted by mail whenever possible at BHA-Occupancy Department, 56 Chauncy Street, Boston, MA 02111 or if necessary applications can be dropped off in the outer lobby of BHA’s main office at 56 Chauncy Street.

Translation Services: Those needing translation services to conduct BHA business should continue to call the BHA’s Language Line at 617-988-4001. 

It is our priority to effectively serve our residents, voucher holders and applicants while limiting in person contact according to public health instructions.

For more public health information regarding COVID-19/Coronavirus, visit the Boston Public Health Commission website at  

To apply be prepared with these items.

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

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

Step 5: Submit Your Paper Application

You must submit your completed and signed BHA paper Application by mail to BHA-Occupancy Department, 56 Chauncy Street, Boston, MA 02111

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

The BHA will not be able to make a copy of your application for you.  Please make a complete copy of your application before you submit it to the BHA.

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 when you are contacted to start your final eligibility determination screening personal interview.

Step 6: Confirmation of Preliminary Eligibility

Your paper 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.

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 that become available 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, Monday through Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 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.

Step 7: 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 8: 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. Be advised that if you fail to respond to the housing offer notification within the deadline or you reject the housing offer without documenting a good cause or establish a new reasonable accommodation need, your application will be withdrawn from all public housing waiting lists.

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.

Appeal Rights

If an applicant is withdrawn or  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.


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