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Guide How to Apply for Public Housing

There are different types of housing available for low-income families, elderly persons, and those with disabilities. Congregate and supportive housing with assisted living services may also be available.

Table of Contents

Am I Eligible?

State-aided public housing includes low-income family, elderly, and handicapped housing in buildings owned by Local Housing Authorities (LHAs) throughout 240 cities and towns in Massachusetts. Note that the term “state-aided public housing” does not include state or federal rental payment vouchers or federal public housing programs.

  • Low-income households are typically eligible for the state-aided public housing if they earn no more than 80 percent of the area median income.  Income Limits for State-Aided Public Housing (effective April 1, 2021)
  • If you or a family member are 60 years of age or over or, you are a non-elderly/handicapped you may qualify for the elderly/handicapped housing program.

For complete details on eligibility please contact a Local Housing Authority.

Key Actions for Am I Eligible?

How to Apply

To apply for state-aided public housing, you must use the Common Housing Application for Massachusetts Public Housing (CHAMP). You can apply using CHAMP either online at our CHAMP website, or in person by completing a printed paper application. Both the online and paper applications are available in English, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Khmer, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese.

If you have a disability, you have a right to request reasonable accommodation during the application process. To do so, please review the notice below and contact a Local Housing Authority.

Notice to All Applicants - Reasonable Accommodations

Apply Online

  • If you think you have applied on paper for state-aided public housing before, you may search for your application on the CHAMP website using a smartphone (ie iPhone or android), tablet or computer.
  • If you have not applied for state-aided public housing before, you may create a new account online. Using an online account will allow you to make changes to your application in real time and allow for a Local Housing Authority to contact you directly if they need to request additional information.
  • When applying online please pay close attention to the asterisked (*) sections. If these questions are left blank, your application will be incomplete and it will not be fully processed.

Apply on Paper

  • To download a paper CHAMP Application, please see the list below.
  • In order for your application to be complete, you must provide all of the required (*) information and sign the Applicant's Certification AND the Fair Information Practices Act -Statement of Rights.
  • At the end of the CHAMP application you will need to select housing programs at each Local Housing Authority where you would like to apply. It is important to only apply for housing programs at Local Housing Authorities where you want to live.
  • When you have completed the entire paper application, mail or hand deliver it to a Local Housing Authority. You will only need to send your application to one LHA even if you have applied for housing programs at another.
  • Once your completed paper CHAMP application has been received by a Local Housing Authority, they will enter your information into the CHAMP database and you will be able to access it online using your Application ID Number.
  • Note: Any information provided in your application will need to be verified by a Local Housing Authority before any offer for housing is made.

Paper Applications

What Happens After I Apply?

For more information about the application process, please see the "Common Applicant Questions" section below or contact a Local Housing Authority

How do I Make Changes to My Application?

Common Applicant Questions

What are the income limits for state-aided public housing?

To be eligible for state-aided public housing, your household income must be at or under 80 percent of the area median income. The income limits change periodically, please see the "Am I Eligible?" section for the current income limits.

What about state vouchers (MRVP or AHVP), federally subsidized apartments, and Section 8 vouchers? Can I use the CHAMP application?

The CHAMP application is currently for state-aided public housing only. Please contact your Local Housing Authority or Regional Administering Agency if you are interested in learning more about these other housing assistance programs. The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) also provides an online application for Section 8 vouchers administered by some Local Housing Authorities in Massachusetts.

How do I request a translator to help me apply using CHAMP?

Both the online and paper CHAMP applications are available in English, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Khmer, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese. To request a translator please contact a Local Housing Authority.

I have a disability which makes it difficult for me to file a CHAMP application. How can I get some assistance?

Please contact any Local Housing Authority for assistance.

What if I want to apply using CHAMP online but I have to use a public computer?

Your online CHAMP application can be accessed using a smart phone (i.e. android or iPhone), tablet, or computer. If you are using a public computer (at a library for example) make sure you do not save any personal or login information to that device and log off completely after you are done. If you are inactive on the CHAMP website for more than 20 minutes you will be logged off automatically.

What should I use as a username when I create a CHAMP account?

You will be required to use an email address as your username when you create an account on the CHAMP website. This will help you access your account in case you forget your password. If you do not have an email or access to a computer, you may still apply for state-aided public housing using a paper CHAMP application. 

I submitted an application for public housing in the past, was this application entered into the CHAMP system?

Yes, any active applications previously submitted on paper to a Local Housing Authority are now online in CHAMP. You may search for your application and create an account online using the CHAMP website.

I submitted my application a long time ago, will I still have the same timestamp that was on my original application?

Yes, your previous time stamp has been saved online in CHAMP. However, you will need to log into the CHAMP website or contact a Local Housing Authority at least once every two years in order to keep your application active. If you do not keep your application active, it will be given an inactive status and removed from waiting lists after one year of inactivity. 

I started an application online but did not finish it, how can I go back in to complete it?

If you started an application online, you may finish where you left off by logging into your CHAMP account. You may come back to complete or edit your application at any time, but it will not be submitted until you have completed the Applicant's Certification AND the Fair Information Practices Act -Statement of Rights and clicked “submit.” You must select at least one program at one housing authority where you want to apply in order to submit your application. Once you have submitted a CHAMP application, you will be able to make changes or updates to your application using your online account. 

I mailed a CHAMP application to a Local Housing Authority, how long will it take for me to see it online?

Processing times vary by Local Housing Authority. However, all applications will receive a timestamp when they are received and will be available on the CHAMP website after they have been processed. To ensure your application is processed fully, be sure to provide all of the required (*) information, make at least one housing selection, and sign the Applicant's Certification AND the Fair Information Practices Act -Statement of Rights.

How do I add or remove myself from a waitlist?

Every Local Housing Authority has a waitlist for each of the housing programs available at their Local Housing Authority. At the end of the CHAMP application there is a full list of the state-aided public housing programs available at each Local Housing Authority. Please see the DHCD State Public Housing Programs web page for descriptions of each housing program.

Once you have applied using CHAMP and created an account, you will be able to make changes to your application online. You may also update your application by sending a written request to any Local Housing Authority by using the forms. If you can’t access or printout a form online, you may obtain one from a Housing Authority.

Who should I ask if I am having trouble completing the CHAMP application?

For assistance applying with the CHAMP application, please contact a Local Housing Authority.

Paper Applications, Income Limits, Fair Market Rent, FIPA Documents

Contact DHCD

Main Office
(617) 573-1100
Please listen for phone menu options for DHCD divisions

For deaf or hard of hearing - TTY
(617) 573-1140

100 Cambridge Street
Suite 300
Boston, MA  02114