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To read the specific laws in the WA State Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, click on the RCW (Revised Code of Washington) links throughout the Tenant Services website.
Tenants Union Tenant Counselors are not attorneys, and this information should not be considered legal advice. Please read our full Tenant Union Disclaimer.
Low Income Housing Search
There are several types of programs that offer low- and moderate-income housing for renters in Washington State. See Apartment Finder or Washington State 2-1-1 for more detailed information on the different kinds of programs available in your area. Housing Search NW is also a good resource for housing in King County. For more detailed information on each kind of low income housing program, see Low Income Housing Rights. The types of low income housing available in Washington State are:
1) Subsidized Housing
HUD’s Public Housing Program and Housing Choice (Section 8) Vouchers are administered through the local Public Housing Authority (PHA). Most waiting lists open for a short time every year and applicants are selected by lottery. Section 8 voucher waiting lists are often two- to three-years long. Watch for opportunities to get your name on the waiting lists. Most Public Housing programs have their own waiting lists. Contact the housing authorities below for more information.
- Seattle Housing Authority: 206-239-1500
- King County Housing Authority: 206-214-1300
- Renton Housing Authority: 425-226-1850
- Housing Authority of Snohomish County: 425-290-8499
- Pierce County Housing Authority: 253-620-5400
- Vancouver Housing Authority: 360-694-2501
- Northeast Washington Housing Solutions: 509-328-2953
HUD Subsidized Project Based Section 8 units are subsidized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. You can get a full list of apartments within King County by calling 206-220-5140 and leaving a message with your name and address. HUD apartment units are different from Housing Authority buildings, because you apply to the individual locations rather than one office. You can apply to as many HUD apartments as you’d like (the more the better). Some HUD Apartments have nonsubsidized units in the same building. HUD buildings are also listed at Apartment Finder.
Low Income Housing Tax Credit programs provide units for low- and moderate-income renters. Look for other low-income buildings with Tax Credit and other subsidies at Apartment Finder, an affordable housing directory serving King County, or at Housing NW.
Nonprofit Housing Developers also offer subsidized housing for low-income tenants. See a list of Seattle-area housing providers below. You can also call Washington State 2-1-1 at 2-1-1 from a landline, 206-461-3200, 1-800-621-4636, or 206-461-3610 for TTY/hearing impaired calls to get a list of housing options, including transitional housing and emergency shelter.
- Capitol Hill Housing: 206-329-7303
- Low Income Housing Institute: 206-443-9935
- Compass Housing Alliance: 206-789-1536
- St. Andrew’s Housing: 425-957-4742
- Downtown Action to Save Housing: 425-646-9053
- Mt. Baker Housing Association: 206-725-1478
- Housing Resources Group: 206-622-2893
- Catholic Housing Services of Western Washington: 206-448-3360
- Plymouth Housing Group: 206-65-8325 (Single residency occupancy: studios and one-bedrooms only)
- Senior Housing Assistance Group: 425-228-4100
- Seattle Senior Housing Program: 206-615-3351
2) Shared Housing
Sharing housing can cost considerably less, and may be more immediately available and/or flexible in accepting people with credit problems or problems with rental history. The following are options to find shared housing situations. Other roommate possibilities are listed in the rental sections of neighborhood newspapers or The Stranger, the Seattle Weekly, The Nickel, or Seattle Craigslist. You can also search for a roommate online at Roomster.
3) Deposit and Move-In Assistance
Moving costs can be extremely high. Be prepared to come up with first month’s rent, last month’s rent and a deposit. You may want to save up money to cover moving costs, try to set up a payment arrangement with the landlord to cover moving costs, or try to get assistance paying off your deposit and initial rent charges. There are agencies and churches that have emergency funds available for move-in assistance. Washington State 2-1-1 at 2-1-1 from a landline, 206-461-3200, 1-800-621-4636, or 206-461-3610 for TTY/hearing impaired calls, can give you information about rental assistance available in your area for income-qualified people. If you receive public assistance, you can ask your DSHS case worker about emergency financial assistance.
4) Housing Search Tips
Housing Search NW is also a good resource for housing in King County. You can look for rentals is in the classified section of newspapers like the Seattle Times or online at NW Homes. The best days to look are in the Saturday and Sunday Real Estate sections. Given the tight housing market that Seattle usually experiences, it’s a good idea to get up early Saturday morning and preview the properties for open houses on Sundays so you can be one of the first to arrive. Also try The Stranger or the Seattle Weekly, free local newspapers that have a fair amount of For Rent ads.
Smaller duplexes, complexes, and mother-in-law apartments tend to rent for less than larger buildings. These types of units are usually owned and managed by an individual landlord. They may try to keep the rent down to attract good tenants who will maintain the property. Private “Mom & Pop” landlords are also more likely to rent to people without running a credit report. You may also have an idea of the area or specific neighborhood you want to live in. Take a walk or drive around the neighborhood and make note of any For Rent signs. This will give you a good sense of the neighborhood character, the people you may end up living next to, and what amenities are available in the area.