There are several types of housing subsidies for low-income renters in Washington. All tenants in subsidized housing are covered under the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act and many programs provide renters with additional protections above and beyond state law. For information on how to find low income housing, see Low Income Housing Search.
The most common subsidies are:
The general criteria to be eligible for these programs are that you are low-income (anywhere from 30-80% of area median income or less). In addition, projects often have units set aside for particular special needs populations, such as households that are a family with children, survivors of domestic violence, or disabled, elderly, or currently homeless. Most programs still screen applicants for evictions, credit, criminal backgrounds and rental history. Each specific program can provide you with a list of their eligibility criteria. Most low-income housing programs offer enhanced protections for tenants against housing loss, such as good cause termination, increased notice, and grievance hearings before benefits can be terminated.
Each program also requires tenants to regularly report changes in the household status and income, and most programs require inspections to ensure and maintain housing quality. Some buildings or units have more than one subsidy attached to them. For example, Section 8 vouchers are often accepted in tax credit subsidized buildings, and public housing units are sometimes subsidized with tax credits. There may even be more than two subsidies interacting to make the housing affordable. All rules of all programs attached to the unit’s subsidy can be enforced. Speak to an attorney for assistance if you don’t know which program rules apply in your specific situation.
Housing Choice (Section 8) Vouchers, Low Income Public Housing programs and some Project-Based Section 8 programs are run by quasi-governmental agencies called a Public Housing Authority (PHA). Some of the largest PHAs in Washington State are:
See Washington Law Help’s Guide for Immigrants, Limited English Proficient Persons and Their Advocates on Federally Subsidized Housing for tips and assistance accessing federal low income housing programs for non native English speakers.
Tenants Union Tenant Counselors are not attorneys, and this information should not be considered legal advice. Please read our full Tenant Union Disclaimer.