Public Housing Law and Legal Definition

Public housing is governed by federal and state laws, which vary by state. States receive federal funding to assist in managing public housing projects. These laws aim to improve unsanitary or unsafe dwelling and public school accommodations and the unsafe or unsanitary conditions arising from overcrowding and concentration of population, the obsolete and poor condition of the buildings, improper planning, excessive land coverage, lack of proper light, air and space, unsanitary design and arrangement, lack of proper facilities and the existence of conditions which endanger life or property by fire and other causes.

Persons of low income are forced to reside in unsanitary or unsafe dwelling accommodations, occupying overcrowded and congested dwelling accommodations, whose conditions cause an increase in and spread of disease and crime and constitute a menace to the health, safety, morals and welfare of others. Many states engage in the clearance, replanning and reconstruction of the areas in which unsanitary or unsafe housing conditions exist and the provision of safe, sanitary and uncongested dwelling accommodations at such rentals that persons who now live in unsafe or unsanitary or congested dwelling accommodations can afford to live in safe, sanitary and uncongested dwelling accommodations.

To live in public housing, you must meet certain requirements set by federal law. Your income must be below a certain level, depending on your household size. Public housing is available to families and to the handicapped, disabled and elderly.

While you may still apply, the housing authority can look at your history as a tenant. They can check things like your rent record or to see if you have a criminal history. They also can check to see if you owe money to a housing authority. If you are denied because of this kind of information, you are entitled to an informal conference with the housing authority. You will be allowed to prove this information untrue or show that you have improved. You cannot be denied public housing because you are a single parent, separated, on welfare or without income.

If you are not qualified for public housing, you are entitled to written notice. This notice should tell why you do not qualify. If this happens, you can request an informal conference with the housing authority.

Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Fair Housing Act), as amended, prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents of legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), and handicap (disability).