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How long is Texas housing waiting list?

In Texas, the length of affordable housing waiting lists can vary greatly depending on location and housing program. Across the state, demand for affordable housing far outpaces supply, leading to long waiting lists in many areas.

Public Housing Waiting Lists in Texas

For traditional public housing waiting lists managed by local public housing authorities (PHAs), statewide data indicates most lists are quite lengthy:

  • In Austin, the waiting list was closed for over 4 years until reopening for a brief period in 2022. Over 16,000 households applied for just 900 available units.
  • In Houston, the waiting list has been closed since 2008 to new applicants. There are over 100,000 households currently on the list.
  • In San Antonio, the waiting list has over 40,000 applicants and has been closed since 2015.
  • In Dallas, the waiting list has over 50,000 households and has been closed for years.

Based on this data, public housing waiting lists in Texas’ major cities often have tens of thousands of applicants waiting 5+ years to receive assistance.

Average Public Housing Waiting List Times in Texas

Looking at statewide estimates, average public housing waiting list times in Texas include:

Household Size Average Wait Time
1 Person Household 1.5 – 3 years
2 Person Household 1.5 – 3 years
3 Person Household 1 – 2 years
4+ Person Household 1 – 2 years

In general, smaller households can expect to wait 1.5 – 3 years on average, while larger households typically wait 1 – 2 years. However, in more supply-constrained cities, all household sizes can expect to wait significantly longer compared to statewide averages.

Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Waiting Lists

For the federal Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, administered in Texas by local PHAs, waiting list times can also be quite extensive:

  • In Houston, the waiting list has over 60,000 applicants and has been closed since 2016.
  • In Austin, over 22,500 households applied for the waiting list lottery in 2021.
  • In San Antonio, the waiting list has over 50,000 applicants and has been closed since 2017.
  • In Dallas, there are over 45,000 households on the HCV waiting list which has been closed for years.

Based on this data, Section 8 HCV waiting lists in Texas’ major metropolitan areas contain tens of thousands of applicants, with lists remaining closed for years at a time.

Average Section 8 Waiting List Times in Texas

Statewide estimates for average Section 8 waiting list times in Texas include:

Household Size Average Wait Time
1 Person Household 2 – 3 years
2 Person Household 2 – 3 years
3 Person Household 1.5 – 2.5 years
4+ Person Household 1.5 – 2.5 years

In general, smaller 1-2 person households can expect to wait 2-3 years on average, while larger 3+ households wait 1.5-2.5 years typically. However, waiting times in Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and other high demand areas are likely to exceed these statewide estimates significantly.

Other Affordable Housing Programs

In addition to public housing and Section 8 HCV, other affordable housing programs in Texas can have lengthy waiting lists including:

Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)

  • Provides affordable rental housing financed through tax credits.
  • Wait times vary by property but averages 1-3 years typically.
  • Lack of inventory leads to long lists, with over 100,000 households on waiting lists in Houston alone.

Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA)

  • Provides rental assistance tied to designated units in LIHTC or other multifamily properties.
  • Average wait times range from 1-3 years.
  • High demand and insufficient units lead to long waits in major metros.

Section 515 Rural Rental Housing

  • Provides affordable rental housing in rural areas, administered by USDA.
  • Wait times range from 1-2 years on average.
  • Limited rural inventory results in long lists throughout Texas.

Section 811 Supportive Housing for Disabled

  • Provides affordable inclusive housing for disabled households.
  • Average wait times of 1-2 years typically.
  • Extremely limited unit availability extends waitlists.

Factors Affecting Wait Times in Texas

Several primary factors lead to lengthy affordable housing waiting lists across Texas:

  • High demand. Over 1 million very low income households in Texas qualify for and seek affordable housing.
  • Limited supply. Texas has a deficit of over 400,000 affordable rental homes.
  • Uneven distribution. Affordable housing inventory is clustered in certain areas, leading to high demand and long lists in major metros.
  • Insufficient funding. Current funding levels do not provide enough resources to build and maintain affordable housing inventory.

With demand drastically exceeding available units, waiting lists end up lengthy and closed off to new applicants for extended periods as existing applicants await openings.

Strategies to Reduce Wait Times

To address extensive waiting lists for affordable housing in Texas, strategies could include:

  • Increasing funding for new affordable housing construction.
  • Offering incentives to developers to build new low-income housing inventory.
  • Expanding rental assistance programs like Section 8 to serve more households.
  • Converting existing housing stock into permanently affordable units.
  • Modifying land use policies to encourage inclusive, affordable housing development.

Multi-pronged approaches focused on rapidly increasing affordable inventory and rental subsidies statewide are needed to meet current demand and reduce average waiting list times in Texas.

Checking Your Status on Texas Affordable Housing Waiting Lists

To check where you stand on affordable housing waiting lists in Texas:

  • Public Housing: Contact your local public housing authority directly to inquire about application status.
  • Section 8 HCV: Contact your local PHA or look for status updates on their website.
  • Other Programs: Reach out to property managers directly for LIHTC, Section 515, and other project-based rental assistance programs.

Keep your application contact information updated and respond to all PHA communications to avoid having your name removed. With demand exceeding supply, proactively monitoring your status and eligibility is important for securing affordable housing.

Prioritization of Applicants

Affordable housing providers generally prioritize applicants based on:

  • Income level – Lower income households are typically prioritized.
  • Family size – Larger families needing larger units may be prioritized.
  • Disabilities – Households with disabilities may receive preference.
  • Homelessness – Homeless applicants are often prioritized for assistance.
  • Elderly/elderly disabled – Senior and disabled senior applicants often receive priority.
  • VAWA emergency transfers – Victims of domestic violence may qualify for expedited waiting list placement.
  • Local criteria – Some PHAs or property managers apply additional local preferences.

Meeting priority criteria as established by housing providers can help reduce wait times versus general applicants lacking priority status.

Options for Faster Access to Affordable Housing

Though waiting lists are generally lengthy, some options for faster access to affordable housing in Texas can include:

  • Applying in smaller cities or rural areas – Less supply constraints lead to shorter lists in certain locales.
  • Seeking emergency housing assistance – Homeless or domestic violence victims may qualify for immediate placement.
  • Applying at newer properties – Newly constructed affordable housing may have shorter lists initially.
  • Meeting priority criteria – Qualifying for expedited waiting list status through priority eligibility.

While expanding the geographic search area, leveraging priority status, and exploring emergency options may help reduce waits, long lists are the norm in Texas’ major metro areas where affordable housing inventory remains most scarce.

Maintaining Eligibility While Waiting

To remain eligible for affordable housing while on Texas waiting lists, key steps include:

  • Reporting income changes – Update PHAs if your household income rises or falls while waiting.
  • Maintaining accurate contact information – Keep your address, phone, and email current with housing providers.
  • Responding to all notifications – Failure to respond to PHA notices may result in removal from the list.
  • Completing required recertifications – Failure to recertify can lead to discontinued eligibility.
  • Avoiding criminal activity – Criminal behavior can make applicants ineligible for housing assistance.

Staying up to date on all PHA communications and eligibility criteria is essential for actualizing affordable housing opportunities once your name comes up from the waiting list.

Alternative Housing Options While Waiting

While stuck on lengthy waiting lists, alternative affordable housing options in Texas can include:

  • Seeking roommates – Splitting rent through roommate shares or subleases.
  • Renting studios/efficiencies – Smaller units offer lower rents.
  • Looking farther from downtowns – Less desirable locations have cheaper rents.
  • Searching for income-based apartments – Privately-owned units with income-based rents.
  • Exploring rent relief programs – Charities offering short-term rental cost help.

Although not sustainable long-term solutions, pursuing cheaper market-rate units, temporary rental assistance, and living with roommates can provide temporary affordable housing while waiting 1-3+ years for long-term assistance to materialize.

Key Takeaways

In summary:

  • Extremely high demand coupled with insufficient affordable housing supply leads to lengthy waiting lists in Texas, particularly in major metros.
  • Public housing and Section 8 HCV waiting lists often contain tens of thousands of applicants and remain closed for years.
  • Average wait times range from 1-3+ years depending on household size and location.
  • Strategies to reduce waits include increasing affordable housing resources and rental assistance funding.
  • Maintaining accurate contact details and eligibility status is crucial while waiting.
  • With long waits the norm, seeking temporary cost relief through cheaper market rentals or roommate shares can provide alternatives while waiting.