FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The Public Housing Program provides subsidized housing to qualified low income families, senior citizens, and persons with disabilities. The program is intended for low income persons and families who would find it difficult or impossible to afford rental housing at market rates.
Through this program, the Housing Authority owns and manages 725 rental housing units in 15 buildings and developments in Dauphin County, just outside the City of Harrisburg. The Housing Authority receives financial support from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which allows it to lease apartments at affordable rents.
Ten of these buildings/developments are located in the greater Harrisburg area and five buildings/developments are located in the northern, more rural areas of Dauphin County. The buildings and developments in northern Dauphin County are an approximate 40 - 50 miles driving distance from center city Harrisburg.
(click on the + below to open and close questions)
WAITING LIST AND SELECTION PROCESS
+ Is there a Waiting List?
Yes. The Public Housing waiting list is currently opened for people who are 50 years of age or older OR who have a permanent disability. You can fill out an electronic application for the desired number of bedrooms and geographical location. If you appear eligible, you are placed on a waiting list in the order of date and time received and preferences claimed.
+ How long is the wait?
This will vary. Once you reach the top of the waiting list, you will be sent a letter to confirm your interest and to provide updated information. Please note that you must inform the Housing Authority in writing of any changes to your application, including contact information as well as changes in family composition.
+ How do I get selected?
After an interview, your information is verified and eligibility determined. Eligibility criteria include income, family status, housekeeping, rental history, criminal history, and financial responsibility.
If you are determined eligible for Public Housing, you must wait until the correct size unit is available. Once a unit is offered and accepted, it is leased at the earliest opportunity.
+ What happens if I reject a unit?
If the unit is rejected without good cause, you must go back on the waiting list with the rejection date as the new date of application.
+ How does my annual income affect the rent that I am charged?
A Public Housing resident family pays rent based on the family’s annual income. Annual income is defined by HUD as including all monetary and non-monetary amounts that are received, or anticipated to be received, by any family member (even ones temporarily absent) within 12 months following admission or the effective date of the annual reexamination. Please note that employment income of family members under the age of 18 is not included as Annual Income. Welfare assistance, social security payments, and other non-earned income paid to children are always included in Annual Income.
+ How will my rent and utilities be determined?
By law, a tenant family pays no more than 30% of its adjusted household income for rent, including utilities. In addition to the dwelling unit, the rent payment also includes the use of a range, refrigerator, and trash collection.
In some buildings, all utilities are included. In others, tenants must pay electric and/or natural gas. When tenants are responsible for the payment of utilities, a utility allowance will be subtracted from the family’s income-based rent to determine the amount of the Tenant Rent. The Tenant Rent is the amount the family owes each month to the Housing Authority.
What is an income-based rent? Income-based rents are calculated using adjusted income. The federal formula for income-based rent provides that a total payment is based on:
- 10% of your monthly income; or
- 30% of your adjusted monthly income.
+ Is there a minimum rent fee?
The minimum rent fee is $50, except where a family has been exempted due to financial hardship.
+ What is a Flat Rent?
The Housing Authority has set a flat rent for each public housing unit. The flat end is determined annually, based on the market rental value of the unit. There is no utility allowance for families paying a flat rent because the Housing Authority has already factored who pays for the utilities into the flat rent calculations.
+ Can I ever change from flat rent to income-based rent?
Once a year, along with the recertification process, the Housing Authority offers families the choice between a flat or income-based rent. At this time, families experiencing financial hardship and unable to pay flat rents because their situations have changed can opt to switch to an income-based rent.
+ Is there an annual reexamination process?
If you are a resident of Public Housing, you must complete, sign and return a reexamination form annually, which focuses primarily on household income and composition. All updated household income information will be verified, and the Housing Authority will determine new rent effective on the reexamination date.
+ What is the landlord tenant relationship in our lease?
As the landlord, the Housing Authority is required to provide a decent, safe, and sanitary dwelling that adequately accommodates each family accepted for admission. The Housing Authority offers a flexible month to month lease. You are asked to pay a security deposit, which is placed into a savings account in your name. Rent and other charges must be paid promptly every month, and you are responsible for the upkeep of the apartment and not disturbing your neighbors. Tenants are required to observe all provisions of the lease and related policies such as the Pet Policy, the Housekeeping Standards, and the Tenant Guide/Management Regulations. Be aware of any “House Rules” that may be adopted in the building or development where you live.
+ What happens if I violate the lease?
Violating the lease will result in a warning to correct your behavior. If violations continue after the warning, your lease will be terminated. In cases of serious lease violations, such as illegal drugs or violent criminal behavior, a termination letter can be issued immediately and you will not be able to use the grievance procedure.
SENIOR CITIZENS AND PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
+ How is housing for senior citizens and persons with disabilities handled?
To qualify for buildings designated for the elderly or disabled, you need to meet the following requirements:
- You are 50 years of age or older OR disabled. For couples, at least one spouse must meet this eligibility qualification
- Your total household income does not exceed the current income limits set by HUD
- You have met your financial obligations, have not committed objectionable criminal acts in the past or demonstrated other behavioral problems in the past that would disturb other tenants, and can maintain your apartment in good condition.
+ What housing features can I expect?
The apartment buildings are located in pleasant, safe residential neighborhoods, and many are on or near bus routes.
- Hoy Towers and Bistline House are designated Senior Citizen Centers. A noon meal is served at both locations through the Senior Citizen Center Nutrition Program.
- All apartment buildings have coin operated laundry facilities on site.
- Apartment buildings have automatic front entrance doors, card access systems, and intercom systems in the vestibule. Hoy Towers, Bistline House and Latsha Towers have camera surveillance systems.
- All high rise and mid rise buildings have up to date fire alarm systems. Most buildings have sprinkler systems.
- All elderly facilities have some apartments that have been modified for the physically disabled.
- All multi-story buildings have elevators.