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Subsidized Housing

Produced by Deborah Harris, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, and Ruthie Liberman, Crittenton Women’s Union
Created October 2010

There are three basic types of government-funded housing in Massachusetts that help make rents more affordable for low- and moderate-income people:

  • Public housing
  • Vouchers
  • Multi-family subsidized housing

Housing assistance is limited in Massachusetts.  Many people
eligible for housing assistance must wait for years on a waiting list until
they actually receive help.  Housing assistance programs have a number of
requirements such as income restrictions. 

Q1:  If I’m a student, can I get help paying
for housing?

Full- and part-time students are eligible to apply for most
housing assistance programs.  However, two large federally funded housing
programs—Section 8 and the Low-Income Housing Credit programs (sometimes known
as “Tax Credit housing”)—do place limits on some adult students. 

Q2:  Am I eligible for a Section 8 voucher?

In general, students who are under age 24 are not eligible
to apply as the head of the household.  These rules apply to part-time students
as well as full-time students.

However, you may still be eligible if ANY one of the
following is true:

  • You are a veteran.
  • You are married.
  • You have a dependent child.

Q3:  Am I eligible for housing under the Low-Income Housing
Credit programs (Tax Credit housing)?

Many full-time students are not eligible to apply for Tax Credit
housing as the head of a household. 

However, full-time students are eligible if ANY one of
the following is true:

  • You are receiving Supplementary Security Income (SSI) benefits.
  • You were previously under the care of the state’s foster care
  • You are a single parent, and no one can claim you or your
    children as dependents.
  • You are married and file (or could file) taxes jointly with your
  • You are enrolled in job training through the Workforce Investment
    Act or a similar government program.

You may also be eligible if ANY one of the following is true:

  • Someone living in your house is not a full-time student.
  • You attend school less than full time.
  • You were a full-time student for four calendar months or less in
    a calendar year.

Landlords may not know these rules and sometimes refuse to
rent to students who are eligible, so it is important to know the eligibility

Q4:  How do I apply for a housing assistance program?

Call the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community
Development at

617.573.1100, and ask for a copy of a booklet called How
to Obtain Housing Assistance in Massachusetts

Q5:  What should I do if I am eligible but the
landlord refuses to rent to me because I am a student?

Find your local legal services program.

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

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