Q.  May I change my waiting list choices later?
  Yes, this request must be made in writing.

Q.  Can I apply for more than one housing program?
A.  Yes, you may apply for any or all SMHA housing programs that are open and that you qualify for.

Q.  Must I pass a criminal background check to qualify?
A.  Yes.

Q.  What if my application is denied?
A.  If your public housing application is denied you will receive an adverse action letter by mail detailing exactly why your application was denied. You will have an opportunity to request a hearing by submitting a request in writing. This request must be received no later than 14 days from the date of the adverse action letter.

Q.  Do I have to live in Shelby County to apply?
A.  No, you do not have to live in Shelby County to apply for the Public Housing Program.  However, preference is given to applicants who currently live in Shelby County whose incomes are between the preference and maximum income limits for the program.

Q.  How long does it take to get housing?
A.  Your wait for housing will depend upon which wait lists you choose. It is impossible to predict how long you will wait because SMHA does not know when units will become available.   Once your eligibility for housing has been determined, your name will be added to the waiting list for housing. When a vacancy occurs, you'll be notified and instructed on how to proceed next. As vacancies in SMHA Public Housing communities occur, an approved individual or family is selected once their name comes to the top of the waiting list.

Q.  Why is there such a long wait for apartments in Public Housing?
A.  The demand for apartments far exceeds the supply.

Q.  What should I do if I change my address after I submit an application?
A.  As with any change to your application, you must contact the SMHA to update your application. Changes in income might affect your priority or entitle you to a working family preference.

Q.  May I add or remove others from my application?

A.  You may add or remove people from your application by submitting the change in writing to the Shelby Metropolitan Housing Authority. Please include your name and the information to be changed. Contact the application intake specialist so that required information and references can be obtained.

Adding or removing people may affect your eligibility for some units. If the change affects your eligibility for a unit of a certain size (as measured by the number of bedrooms), you will be moved to the waiting list for the correct unit size. Your date of application stays the same.

Q.  Can anyone apply for housing in the elderly/disabled housing program?
A.  No. State funded developments require applicants to be 62 or older and/or disabled. 

Q.  Is Public Housing transferable from state to state?
A.  No. Project-based programs are not transferable. 

Q.  How do I cancel my application?
A.  When an applicant is no longer interested, we request that the cancellation is made in writing.

Q.  What types of issues are reviewed with determining program eligibility?
A.  SMHA reviews rental history for at least the past 3 years; all previous subsidized landlords will be reviewed.  SMHA also, reviews all criminal activity for at least the past 3 years.

Q.  Who decides what size apartment I need?
A.  The SMHA is required to follow certain occupancy standards that limit the number of residents according to the number of bedrooms. The following is a basic guide (exceptions follow):

Family size/ eligible for:

1 person/ 0-1 BR
2 people/ 1-2 BR
3 people/ 2-3 BR
4 people/ 2-4 BR

Q.  How is rent determined?
A.  Rent is based upon your family's gross annual income, with deductions and exclusions according to applicable regulations. Deductions and exclusions vary with different programs. Typical deduction examples include: allowances for dependents, elderly family members, disabled individuals, and medical expenses for families headed by an elderly person or a person with disabilities. Rent is typically 30% of your gross income.

Q.  Are utilities included in my rent?
A.  Utilities will vary depending upon the unit.

Q.  Do I have to have an income?
A.  Applicants must have a verifiable means of paying their rent and utilities (if applicable).  The minimum monthly rent with SMHA is $50.

Q.  Could my monthly rent vary during my annual lease term?
A.  Yes, rent varies depending upon income and can change during the year.

Q.  Does SMHA provide emergency housing?
A.  SMHA does not provide emergency housing.  Applicants are processed based upon application date and time.

Q.  Does SMHA assist with rent where I am currently residing?
A.  No, SMHA does not provide Public Housing rental assistance for current landlords.  The rental assistance is attached to units that SMHA owns and manages.  If you are looking for a private landlord, please request information on the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program.

Q.  What is the difference between Low Income Public Housing and the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
A.  Low Income Public Housing units are units that are owned and managed by SMHA.  If an applicant is interested in Low Income Public Housing, they must move into units that are owned and managed by SMHA.

Q.  If I am eligible for Low Income Public Housing; Can I find my own unit?
A.  No, you must move into units that CMHA owns and manages.

Q.  Can I request a certain development?   
A.  Unit offers are made as units throughout the city become available. MHRA does not keep development-specific waiting lists.

Q.  Why does SMHA have a Public Housing Agency Plan and what is it about?
A.  The Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act (QHWRA) Act of 1998 requires Public Housing Agencies receiving federal public housing and/or Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to submit a Public Housing Agency (PHA) 5-Year and Annual Plan to HUD each year.  The 5-Year Plan states the mission, goals, and objectives for serving the needs of low-income and very low-income families.  The Annual Plan details policies on the operations and management of the HPHA's housing programs such as housing needs, eligibility and admissions, financial resources, rent policies, community service and safety, capital fund improvements, and designation/disposition of housing.

Q.  Are pets allowed in federal public housing?
A.  The QHWRA of 1998 allows residents of "federal" public housing to have household pets as along as the residents follow the pet ownership policies and procedures established by the public housing agency.  SMHA has established a pet policy process and pet rules for residents of federal public housing to follow.  Before a resident is allowed to have a pet in the unit, the resident must comply with the application process to allow the pet into the housing project.  Residents must contact their project manager for more specific instructions on pet ownership before bringing a pet into their unit.  Service animals for the elderly and/or disabled are exempt from the procedures.   See your public housing  manager for information on service animals.

Q.  If I have a job, do I still have to do community service?
A.  A resident must be employed at least thirty hours per week to be exempt from completing the eight hours of Community Service each month.  If you have more questions about Community Service, contact your Project Management Office.

Q.  Are there residents who do not have to do any community service?
A.  Yes, a few of the exemptions from performing Community Service are:

  • Residents who are over age 62.
  • Residents employed at least thirty hours per week.
  • Residents who are disabled and unable to perform the eight hours per month.
  • Residents receiving TANF.
  • Residents actively participating in a self-sufficiency program.
  • Victims of domestic violence.
  • Residents who are needed at home to care for an ill family member. 

Q.   What is SMHA doing about the crime in their housing projects?
A.  SMHA is working in partnership with the local police departments to address criminal activity in and around our housing projects. 

Q.  What do I do or who do I see if I think there is some kind of drug activity going on in my housing project?
A.  You should call 911 and report the suspected illegal activity to the Police Department.  Also report it to your public housing manager on the next scheduled business day.  SMHA will make every attempt to resolve any issues you may have.

Q.  What if I have a problem in my apartment?
A.  Maintenance personnel are on duty Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00AM to 4:30PM. Residents simply call or stop by the main office to request a work order for the needed repairs. A work order is then generated in our computers and sent to the maintenance department.

Q.  How are the public housing units maintained?
A.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides grant funds to help maintain Public Housing units.  As funds are approved and allocated for modernization, HACC upgrades housing units as needed.