Apply for state-funded public housing

There are 41,500 public housing apartments for seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, and families. These units rent for much less than the average apartment.

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Kevin Connor, press secretary

The Details   of Apply for state-funded public housing

What is public housing?   for Apply for state-funded public housing

Public housing is housing owned by the government that rents for much less (if you're eligible). 

You'll apply for most Massachusetts public housing through the CHAMP (Common Housing Application for Massachusetts Programs) website. You'll select programs based on where you want to live. Housing authorities have units dedicated to different types of public housing such as Elderly/Handicapped Low-Income Housing and Family Low-Income Housing. Pick locations based on the type of housing you need and where you want to live. For example, choose a community that's near your work or where your children go to school. 

Your finished application goes to the Local Housing Authority (LHAthat oversees the housing you selected. 

Other types of public housing and related services

This page is about applying to Massachusetts-funded public housing. There are also 30,000 federally-funded public housing units in Massachusetts. To apply for those, you'll contact a housing authority that offers them.

You can also apply to state rental voucher programs, which pay a part of your rent in the private market. You can apply for these in CHAMP, right along with public housing. There are also federal rental vouchers (section 8), though you can't apply for these in CHAMP. Finally, seniors and people with disabilities may apply to congregate housing programs (shared living spaces with roommates). 

Eligibility   for Apply for state-funded public housing

You're eligible for public housing if you earn 80 percent or less of the area median income. Find income limits for state public housing by town and household size

What you need

  • You need an email to create an account in CHAMP. (You can also apply using a paper application in person.) 
  • You do not need to upload any documents to get your application started. Later in the process (before you get housing), you'll provide documents such as a birth certificate, pay stubs, bank statements, or driver's license. The LHA handling your application will tell you what documents they need.

How to apply   Apply for state-funded public housing

Start by creating a CHAMP account with an email address. 

This document shows you screen by screen how to set up an account in CHAMP.

The application will collect information about:

  • Contact info
  • Current housing
  • Employment/Veteran Status
  • If you need help with language
  • Household info
  • Income
  • What you need in a housing unit

What to know about CHAMP 

  • All required sections of the application are marked with an asterisk (*). You'll need to do all of these before you can submit. 
  • If you’re inactive for 20 minutes, you'll be logged off. However, CHAMP saves your information. When you log back in, you can start where you stopped. 
  • You can log in to CHAMP at any time to update or add information to your application, or to find out if LHA(s) need more information from you.  
  • When you reach the part of the application where you pick housing authorities, you'll notice that some of them are dedicated to different types of residents (such as seniors, people with disabilities, families). Pick the one(s) that fit your needs. 
  • Keep your contact information up to date in CHAMP so LHA(s) can communicate with you.

Homeless priority 

You may be eligible for "homeless priority," which speeds up the application process. Learn what situations qualify and what documents you’ll need to claim homeless priority. If you claim a priority, you’ll receive an email, phone call, and letter from the Centralized Screening Office (Archipelago Strategies Group [ASG]). They'll ask you to send documents to verify your claim. 

You can also download a paper application and mail it or bring it to any Local Housing Authority. You only need to send your application to one LHA, even if you have applied for housing programs at another. 

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Once a Local Housing Authority receives your application, they add you to CHAMP. Then, you’ll be able to see or change your application online using your Application ID Number. The Local Housing Authority will also give you an application receipt. 

Next steps   for Apply for state-funded public housing

  1. LHA processes your application

    If your application is complete, the LHA will process it, and you'll be added to a waitlist. Each housing authority has its own waitlist. And you’ll have a better chance at getting an offer if you are a veteran, and if you live or work in that community.

    You may not hear anything for a long time after you apply. The waitlist for some locations may be very long, sometime years.

    If you have a homeless priority or veteran’s preference claim, look for emails, phone calls, and mail from the Centralized Screening Office (ASG). Respond with the documents they ask for, and if ASG approves your claim, you won't spend as long on the waitlist.

  2. Log into CHAMP to keep your application active

    You need to log into the CHAMP website or contact a housing agency each year to keep your place on a waitlist. If you're inactive for 2 years, your application may be closed.

  3. Apply to other housing programs

    The waitlists for public housing vary by LHA and by your specific situation. Housing for seniors (60 and over) tends to have more openings, for example. Here are other programs you may want to apply for:

  4. Respond to requests for documents

    When your application is near the top of a waitlist, the LHA will contact you and ask for more documents and the CHAMP Supplemental Application (see an example). The documents they may ask for include a birth certificate, pay stubs, bank statements, or driver's license. You can upload these to CHAMP or deliver these to the LHA by mail or in person.

    If you have questions about documents, review the Frequently Asked Questions on the CHAMP Help Page or contact the LHA.

    Responding to Local Housing Authorities even if you don’t have the documents is the most important factor in successfully getting your application verified.

    Note: Some documents expire after 90 days. This means that if you've applied to multiple properties, you may have to upload the same document more than once. This would happen if there's a long time between when you get to the top of one LHA's waitlist and when you get to the top of another's.

  5. Check the status of your application with the LHA

    If you want to know the status of your application, you will need to contact the LHA(s) that oversee the housing you chose in CHAMP. 

    If you have questions about your homeless priority claim, contact the Centralized Screening Office (ASG) email ASG or call them at (978) 935-4900,

  6. LHA verifies your application and makes a housing offer

    Once you have submitted the required documents, the LHA will decide if you’re eligible, what your priority status is, and what your preference status is. Then, if you're at the top of the waitlist, you may receive a housing offer.

    If you refuse a housing offer, you will be removed from that public housing waiting list. If you refuse 3 offers, you will be removed from public housing waiting lists at all housing authorities where you have applied.

Contact   for Apply for state-funded public housing

Main Office
100 Cambridge St, Suite 300, Boston, MA 02114

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Kevin Connor, press secretary

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