skip to Main Content

Public Housing FAQ

Safe, decent & affordable housing.

Public Housing is limited to low-income families and individuals. The Scranton Housing Authority (SHA) determines your eligibility based on: 1) annual gross income; 2) whether you qualify as elderly, a person with a disability, or as a family under general occupancy; and 3) U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status. If you are eligible, the SHA will check your rental history, references, and other factors to make sure you and your family will be good tenants. The SHA will deny admission to any applicant whose habits and practices may be expected to have a detrimental effect on other tenants or on the project’s environment.

For information on how to apply or to check your status please see our application page.

We will collect the following information on the application:

  • Names of all persons who will be living in the Public Housing unit, social security number, sex, date of birth, and relation to the head;
  • Current address and telephone number;
  • Family characteristics including but not limited to (e.g., veterans), or circumstances (e.g., living in our jurisdiction) that might qualify the family for tenant selection preferences;
  • Names and addresses of your current and previous landlords for information about your family’s suitability as a tenant;
  • Personal references; and 
  • Sources and amounts of all your family’s income, assets, etc. 

Yes. The SHA will request whatever documentation is needed (e.g., birth certificates, Photo Identification, social security cards, etc.) to verify the information given on your application. The SHA will also rely on direct verification from outside sources. You will be asked to sign a form to authorize release of pertinent information to the SHA.

The income limits are determined by HUD and change every year.  Please see the RESOURCES page for current income limits.

The SHA assigns bedrooms based on the criteria outlined in our SHA Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP).

Applications are placed on the waiting list based on the bedroom size you qualify for. Your placement on the list will be ordered by preference category and, within each preference category, by the date and time the application was received by our office.

Yes. You must report any changes of address to the SHA within 10 business days, in person. Please note: changing your address with the post office will NOT change your address with the SHA. You must update us separately.

Almost all of our communication with you will be conducted via mail. This is why it is extremely important to keep us updated with your current address. If a letter is returned by the post office, your name will be removed from the waiting list.

No. You do not have to be a citizen; however, you must have eligible immigration status. Everyone in the household will be required to declare their citizenship status and provide proof of identity. Non-citizens with eligible immigration status will be required to provide proof of eligible immigration status as well.

The length of time you will spend on the waiting list will be different for every bedroom size. It is impossible to give an estimate of how long you will have to wait because we have a fixed number of Public Housing units. These units become available at unpredictable intervals so there is no way to predict how long anyone will have to wait for one of our units to become available.

Once your name reaches the top of the waiting list, you will be contacted by mail and/or phone. The SHA will begin the process to verify your income, assets, and family composition. We will also check landlord references, personal references, conduct criminal background checks of everyone in the household 18 years of age and other factors that help the SHA determine your suitability for living in our housing properties.

After this process is completed, we will notify you either by phone or mail of your eligibility.

There are many reasons why an application may be denied including, but not limited to:

  • Failed criminal background check
  • Previous evictions
  • Whether you or your household members owe any debts to us or to another subsidized housing property
  • Income over the federally-mandated income limits
  • Failure to appear for scheduled appointments
  • Failure to provide necessary documents or information for us to determine eligibility

All denials are based on the policies and regulations found in the SHA’s ACOP.  The SHA is prohibited by federal law from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, familial status, and disability. 

We will verify all your information and the circumstances and facts of your case. The length of time it takes to verify your information is dependent on the accuracy of the information that you provide on the application and the response time of your landlord and personal references. This is not something that we can control. Once this is finished, we will determine whether you are eligible or not. We will contact you either by phone or mail with our decision.

If we determine that you are ineligible, we will state the reason(s) why. If you believe our decision was made in error, you have the right to request an informal hearing.

Once you are eligible, you will be offered an available unit that meets your needs. We will discuss your rent and security deposit. We will then schedule a leasing appointment, where you will pay the first month’s rent and security deposit, sign the lease, and receive the keys to your new unit. You should take this opportunity to go over the lease carefully with the SHA representative. This will give you a better understanding of your responsibilities as a tenant and the SHA’s responsibilities as a landlord.

If you reject a unit offer without good cause, you will be removed from the public housing waiting list.

No, you will not be able to choose the development or developments where you would like to live.

Yes. Since the demand for housing assistance often exceeds the limited resources available to the SHA, long waiting periods are common. 

The SHA Public Housing Program has the following preferences:  

  • Applicant who is involuntarily displaced from his/her home as a result of fire, disaster or government action.
  • Single or two parent household who resides in the City of Scranton where the head of household or spouse works or has been hired to work in the City of Scranton.  Head of household or spouse must be employed a minimum of 30 hours per week.
  • Head of household or spouse or sole member who is 62 years of age or older, or who receive Social Security, SSI or any benefits resulting form an individual' s inability to work will be counted as the equivalent to the second preference.
  • Head of household or spouse that has graduated from an education and/or training program that is designed to prepare individuals for the job market.
  • Applicant who is a victim of domestic violence.
  • Applicant who is homeless.
  • Applicant living in substandard housing.
  • Applicant paying more than 50% of income for rent.

Your rent, which is referred to as the Total Tenant Payment (TTP) in this program, is based on your family’s anticipated gross annual income, less any deductions, if applicable.

HUD regulations allow the SHA to exclude from annual income the following allowances: $480 for each dependent; $400 for any elderly family or person with a disability; certain childcare expenses; and certain medical expenses for families headed by an elderly person or a person with disabilities.

Based on your application, the SHA will determine if any of the allowable deductions should be subtracted from your annual gross income. Annual gross income is the anticipated total income from all sources received by the family.

The formula used in determining the TTP is the highest of the following, rounded to the nearest dollar: 30 percent of your monthly adjusted income (income minus deductions allowed by regulations); or 10 percent of monthly income without these deductions; or a minimum rent.

As you can see, there are many factors that go into our calculations.

The SHA is responsible for the management and operation of our local Public Housing program, as well as our other housing programs such as the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program.

Our ongoing functions in the Public Housing Program include: 

  • assuring compliance with leases.  The Lease must be signed by both parties;
  • setting other charges like security deposits, excess utility consumption, and damages to units;
  • performing periodic reexaminations of a family’s income at least once every 12 months;
  • transferring families from one unit to another in order to correct over or undercrowding, repairing or renovating a dwelling, or due to resident’s requests to be transferred;
  • terminating leases when necessary; and
  • maintaining our developments in a decent, safe, and sanitary condition.

Sometimes people with disabilities may need a reasonable accommodation in order to take full advantage of the SHA’s housing programs and related services. 

A reasonable accommodation is a change, adaptation, or modification to the SHA’s rules, policies, practices, or services which is necessary to provide a qualified individual with a handicap or disability an equal opportunity to participate fully in the services, programs, or activities provided by the SHA.

You may request a reasonable accommodation.  A request may be made on behalf of the individual by a family member or other agent. 

In general, you may stay in Public Housing as long as you comply with the lease. If, at reexamination, your family’s income is sufficient to obtain housing on the private market, the SHA may determine whether your family should stay in Public Housing.

If your question isn’t answered in this section, please contact the SHA Occupancy Department at (570) 348-4418. We will respond to all calls as soon as possible.

Back To Top