Information for Applicants

CHA provides rental housing and rental assistance for low-income families, seniors, and persons with disabilities.

Housing Programs & Eligibility

Before completing an application, please review our eligibility requirements.

Family Housing Program

Family Housing (formerly Family Public Housing) in Cambridge is owned and managed by CHA and reserved for single persons or families.

There are over thirty federally-supported Cambridge family properties.

Requirements for eligibility:

  • Your Household Income must not exceed 80% of Area Median Income.
  • The applicant or head of household must be at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor.

Family Housing Program Eligibility, Information, and Fact Sheets

Elderly/Disabled Housing

Elderly/Disabled Housing (formerly Elderly/Disabled Public Housing) includes properties in Cambridge owned and managed by CHA. They are reserved for elders and those with disabilities.

  • An elderly person is at least 60 years old.
  • A disabled person has:
    • a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
    • a record of an impairment; or
    • is regarded as being impaired.
    • Disability does not include current use or addiction to illegal drugs.

Requirements for eligibility:

  • Your Household Income must not exceed 80% of Area Median Income.
  • You must meet the definition of Elderly and/or Disabled, as described above.
  • The applicant or head of household must be at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor.

Elderly Housing Program Eligibility, Information, and Fact Sheets

Single-Room Occupancy (SRO)

The Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Program is shared housing with other SRO participants. 

  • Single rooms are for one person and have a lock and key.  
  • In most SRO developments, tenants share kitchens and bathrooms. 
  • Some developments offer highly independent living, while others are supervised.

Requirements for eligibility:

  • Your Household Income must not exceed 50% of Area Median Income.
  • Admission to some SRO units is limited to homeless individuals with adequate evidence of their homelessness.

SRO Program Eligibility and Information

MTW Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) (Section 8) Program

The MTW Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program (or Section 8 program) provides eligible households with a subsidy that allows them to rent privately-owned market rate apartments. 

  • Typically, voucher holders pay 30% of their income toward rent. CHA pays the rest up to a cap (the “payment standard”).

Requirements for eligibility:

  • Your Household Income must not exceed 50% of Area Median Income.
  • Applicants or households must be Family or Elderly and/or Disabled.

MTW Housing Choice Voucher Program Eligibility and Information

Application and Waitlists

By submitting an application, you are requesting to be put on an open waitlist for housing assistance. Applicants will receive a confirmation number to acknowledge receipt of application. CHA will contact you for screening and a more detailed application (required for final eligibility).

Please note: Confirmation you completed the application does not guarantee your placement on a waitlist or subsidy.

You may submit additional applications to be put on more waitlists. A new date and time of application will be noted for each additional waitlist you choose.

Status of Waitlists

  • Public Housing and Former Public Housing- Family (waitlist is open)
  • Public Housing and Former Public Housing- Elderly/Disabled (waitlist is open)
  • Single Room Occupancy (waitlist is open)
  • Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV/Section 8) (waitlist is open)

Before you start the application process, please make sure you have:

  • Social Security number for the head of household (or contact CHA for an alternate ID number)
  • The names and dates of birth of all family members
  • The income of all family members
  • If you cannot print the confirmation number, please be prepared to write it down.

To get help completing the application, please call the Housing Authority at 617-864-3020.

Application Translations

Checking Waitlist Application Status

You can check your application status online by visiting the Applicant Portal or calling the Waiting List Information Line at 617-499-7041. Staff are available to answer your questions Monday through Friday during regular business hours. You must provide the Social Security number used on your original application to get information.

To learn more, please review our Applicant Portal FAQ.

Household Information Change Form

Applicants are responsible for notifying CHA of any changes in household composition, contact information, income, and/or selection preferences. You can do this on the Applicant Portal or by filling out one of the following forms.

Please visit our Program Forms page for access to other important forms.

IMPORTANT: Please wait 30 days from the time of submission to make any changes to your application. Changes can be made in the Applicant Portal, or download the Household Information change form.

The Cambridge Housing Authority does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, color, national origin, age, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status or familial status.  We provide equal access to person with disabilities to our programs, services and activities.

FAQs

Applicants

The City of Cambridge Community Development Department (CDD) administers the Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) Rental Housing Program. Inclusionary rental units are located throughout the City in developments that are privately owned and managed. CDD maintains this pool of applicants to assist owners in making units available to eligible households. These units are not owned or managed by CHA or by the City. CDD’s IZ program is separate from CHA assistance and uses a different waitlist and preference criteria. However, you may use your CHA voucher in one of the IZ units if you are offered a unit through the IZ program. The application process for CDD’s program is separate from CHA’s waitlist. You can find more information on CDD’s website at: https://www.cambridgema.gov/CDD/housing/forapplicants/rentalapplicantpool

CHA’s waitlists are ordered by date and time as well as by eligible “preference.” CHA provides additional preference/priority on the waitlist for applicants who live or work in Cambridge, or are a veteran, and other specific emergency criteria.

  • If you are a non-preference applicant then your number will likely change as applicants with a preference continue to apply, as they will be placed ahead of you on the waitlist.
  • If you are a preference applicant, such as a Cambridge resident, there may be applicants with a higher preference than yours. Such as emergency applicants, current participants with an approved Reasonable Accommodation, Overhoused/Accessibility transfers, or other priority transfers.
  • As applicants near the top of their respective waitlist, they may notice their status change from “waiting” to “referred to owner.” This means that the owner has notified CHA of a current or anticipated vacancy and will begin to screen applicants off of CHA’s waitlist. CHA has sent the owner a list of names with applicant contact info and the owner will reach out via mail to schedule you for a screening. However, even if your status is “referred to owner” there still may be a substantial wait time.
  • Example: the owner has 2 vacancies and CHA sends the owner the top 10 names on the list. The owner reaches out to the 10 applicants and conducts screening. You are #8 on the list. If any of the 7 applicants before you on the list are eligible and accept the unit then they will be placed before you since they have a higher number. The owner will reach out to you again once there is another vacancy and you are next in line.

There are a number of different reasons that your waitlist status may be “Removed.”

  • Generally, once you are issued a voucher or lease in a unit you are removed from all other CHA waitlists. In this case, your status may show as “Removed” or “Admitted to Program.” The exception to this is if you lease in an SRO unit – in which case you will be removed from the SRO waitlist only, but will maintain your position on all other CHA waitlists that you are on.
  • If your status shows “Removed-No Response” or “Removed-PO Returned” this means that either CHA sent out an interest letter and you did not respond to the mailing by the deadline, or CHA sent out an interest letter and it was returned to us by the post-office and/or was undeliverable. You may have moved and not updated your address with CHA or notified the post office of your new address. In cases where CHA has removed an applicant from the list for failure to respond, CHA will reopen the application if contacted within six months of the removal.

The Single Room Occupancy (SRO) program provides housing for individuals in congregate living, typically with shared common spaces. Some units are assisted with federal subsidies and others are assisted with state subsidies

The application for and information about all of CHA’s currently open waitlists is available online on our Waitlist Application Information page. To apply, scroll down and click the “Application for CHA Housing Programs” button.

  • Applicants can log into the Applicant Portal (different from the online application) to check their status on waitlists they have applied to: https://cha.applicants4housing.com/Public/Login/Login.aspx. First time users will need to “create an account” to get started.
  • Applicants may also call the Informational Switchboard/Wait List line at 617-499-7041. For quicker/self-service applicants are encouraged to set up a portal account to check their status.

CHA has different income limits for different programs. Generally, your total household gross income must be below a certain amount, according to your family size, in order to qualify for assistance. Income limits are set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and are updated annually. Information about the income limits for each program are available on the Information for Applicants page.

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