Massachusetts law about public and subsidized housing

Laws, regulations, cases and web sources on public housing law.

If you are unable to find the information you are looking for, or if you have a specific question, please contact our law librarians for assistance.

Table of Contents

Overview

There are 3 types of low-rent housing:

  • Public housing is owned and run by a local housing authority.
  • A voucher is rental assistance to help people find an apartment in the private market.
  • Multifamily subsidized housing is owned by a private landlord or corporation that has received government subsidies to provide affordable housing.

Best bets

Emergency housing assistance, Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities.
Explains the new Declaration for Emergency Assistance for Family Shelters. Contains Guidance on Waitlist and Prioritization Procedures. Find links to the various forms of shelter for families, youth, and individuals over 18.

A guide to emergency and long-term help with housing, Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities.
This reference guide is for Massachusetts residents seeking information on housing for low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Includes information on state aided public housing, rental assistance, homelessness prevention, resources for victims of domestic violence, and home ownership opportunities.

Recent updates

EA emergency family shelter - length of stay policy, Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities.
New 9-month time limit. There is now a time limit of 9 months for families in the EA Emergency Family Shelter program to transition out of shelter and into stable housing. "Families will receive 90 days notice before their shelter benefit expires, and will not be required to exit EA Emergency Family Shelter due to this policy until September 1, 2024 at the earliest." See also See St. 2024, c. 88, § 3.

Massachusetts laws

MGL c. 23B, § 25, § 26, and § 27 Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities

MGL c. 121B Housing and urban renewal

Massachusetts regulations

760 CMR Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities

Federal laws

42 USC 1401-1440 Low-income housing

42 USC 13663 Ineligibility of dangerous sex offenders for admission to public housing

Federal regulations

24 CFR:

  • § 5 General HUD program requirements; waivers
  • §§ 5.850 et seq. Preventing crime in federally assisted housing—denying admission and terminating tenancy for criminal activity or alcohol abuse
  • § 247 Evictions from certain subsidized and HUD-owned projects
  • §§ 800-899 Section 8 Housing Assistance Programs, Section 202 Direct Loan Program, Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program and Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities Program
  • §§ 900-999 Additional housing assistance programs
  • §§ 965.651-965.653 Smoke-free public housing

Selected cases

Commonwealth v. Nelson, 74 Mass. App. Ct. 629 (2009)
"A Boston Municipal Court judge erred in finding the criminal defendant guilty of trespassing, where the defendant was found to be passing through the halls of Boston Housing Authority property in order to reach a tenant's apartment at the tenant's invitation, and there was no evidence that the defendant had lingered or loitered in the hall."

Garcia v. Dept. of Housing and Community Development, 480 Mass. 736 (2018)
The DHCD was not required to use motels to address ADA accommodation for emergency shelter for people who qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). ADA requires an individualized and fact-specific inquiry as to what constitutes a reasonable accommodation.

Web sources

2022 HUD housing resource and rental assistance guide for MassachusettsU.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.
This reference guide is for Massachusetts residents seeking information on housing for low-and moderate-income families and individuals. Includes information on state aided public housing, rental assistance, homelessness prevention, resources for victims of domestic violence, and home ownership opportunities.

Affordable housing, Mass.gov. 
Find information about public housing, rental assistance programs, emergency housing, and other state resources to help you find safe and secure shelter.

Chapter 40B affordable housing: Frequently asked questions, CHAPA.org.
An explanation of the affordable housing law and help in finding a home.

Emergency Assistance advocacy guide, 2023, Mass. Legal Services
Using a simple question-and-answer format, this Guide leads advocates and homeless families through the rules governing eligibility for Emergency Assistance-the program that provides emergency shelter and rehousing services to homeless families with children in Massachusetts.

Housing choice voucher program administrative plan, Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities, August 2021.
This 400+ page book outlines policies and procedures for Section 8 tenant-based programs, including topics such as fair housing, eligibility, discrimination, etc.

Housing Navigator Massachusetts
"We develop technology that promotes housing equity and ... brings transparency to the affordable housing market. Working with owners and public sector partners, we’ve built a database of income-restricted rentals from all over the state. Search for housing here."

Housing search guide for people with disabilities in Massachusetts, Chapa.org.
A guide for disabled renters in Massachusetts, providing step-by-step assistance for your search.

Income and rent limits 2023, Mass. Affordable Housing Program.
Lists limits for the HUD assisted housing programs and tax subsidies.  There is no asset limit for families seeking public housing assistance.

Public & subsidized housingMass. Legal Help.
A collection of pages containing information on topics related to public and subsidized housing, including:

Public housing occupancy guidebook, U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.
This guide to public housing covers civil rights and nondiscrimination requirements, eligibility for admission, waiting list administration, applicant selection criteria, occupancy guidelines, processing applications, verification standards, tenant selection and assignment plan, leasing requirements, income and program rents, transfers, annual reexamination of income and family circumstances, interim rent adjustments, utilities, community service and self-sufficiency, pet policies, general public housing lease requirements, grievance procedure, and domestic violence.

Smoke-free public housing, U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.
Includes a Guidebook for landlords as well as a checklist and information for residents on health and quitting smoking.

Utilities allowances, U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.
Utility allowances can be small or large, ranging from less than $10 to over $200 for a resident household per month, depending on the PHA, the number of utilities and uses covered, and the dwelling unit and/or household size.

Contact   for Massachusetts law about public and subsidized housing

Last updated: May 14, 2024

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