Policy Alert - Site-based Waiting Lists

Site-Based Waiting Lists


As part of a comprehensive strategy to revitalize a mixed-finance site, many housing authorities employ site-based waiting lists1. There are many potential benefits to using a site- based waiting list including:


  1. achieving the broad range of incomes which is one of the goals of the mixed-finance program;
  2. drawing in applicants who may be specifically interested in the mixed-finance site; and
  3. in the case of a HOPE VI, attracting residents who want to achieve the self-sufficiency goals of the program.

Typical Site-based Waiting List Systems

HUD has approved several different types of sorting systems in conjunction with site-based waiting lists at mixed-finance sites. The appropriate system for each community varies with local circumstances as well as the goals of the PHA's revitalization program. Some of the systems, which may be used alone or in combination are:


  • Sorting by income tiers. This system allows the PHA to sort applicants by household income.

    Example: A housing authority establishes a goal of renting 30% of the units at a particular development to households between 60%-80%, 30% to households between 30-60% of AMI, the remaining 40% of the units to households below 30% of AMI. It establishes a site-based waiting list in which applicants are sorted by the same income tiers to increase the likelihood of achieving the desired income mix.
  • Preferences. This system allows the PHA to prioritize residents with characteristics such as an employment history or participation in a job training program.

    Example. A PHA establishes a preference system by which households where heads of household are employed or in job training move forward on the wait list ahead of other households.
  • Sorting by ranking. This system allows the PHA to rank applicants by assigning weighted preferences based on a variety of characteristics.

    Example: A PHA assigns a weighted point system for a variety of preferences (ex. 20 points for a 1-year employment history; 15 points for being in job training; 10 points for participating in a family self-sufficiency program; 5 points for being a public housing resident) it wishes to prioritize. Applicants are then assigned scores and ranked accordingly.

HUD will not approve a site-based waiting list that raises fair housing concerns. Therefore, when designing a sorting or ranking system, PHAs should carefully evaluate whether this system would have any discriminatory impact on households because of race, religion, national origin, gender, family composition, age or disability. For example, a preference for being employed may have a discriminatory impact on heads of household that are elderly or disabled. PHAs should structure their Plans to avoid this impact by, for example, ranking disabled applicants solely by date and time of application such that non-disabled applicants who apply later in time do not advance ahead on the waiting list because of a preference.

Procedure for Inclusion in the Agency Plan

Pursuant to changes authorized in the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998, PHAs may now implement a site-based waiting list that is consistent with all applicable civil rights and fair housing laws and regulations by describing the list in its PHA Annual Plan, and HUD’s subsequent approval of the PHA Annual Plan. As described in 24 CFR Part 903.7(c), the PHA may adopt the site-based waiting list via the Annual Plan where:


  1. the PHA regularly submits required occupancy data to HUD’s Multifamily Tenant Characteristics Systems in an accurate, complete and timely manner;
  2. the site-based waiting list system provides for full disclosure to each applicant about any housing options within the PHA’s inventory;
  3. adoption of the site-based waiting list would not violate any court order or settlement agreement or be inconsistent with a pending complaint brought by HUD;
  4. the PHA includes reasonable measures to assure such adoption is consistent with affirmatively furthering fair housing; and
  5. the PHA provides for ongoing-review of its site based waiting lists policy to determine if it is consistent with civil rights laws and certifications by:
  1. including as part of its Annual Plan, assessing changes in racial, ethnic or disability-related tenant composition at each PHA site that may have occurred during the implementation of the site-based waiting list based on MTCS occupancy data; and


  • taking any steps necessary to remedy the problems surfaced during the review and the steps necessary to affirmatively further fair housing.


    HUD has 75 days from Plan submission to reject or question an element of the Plan. Similarly, HUD has 75 days from the date of submission of a significant amendment or modification of the Plan in which to reject or question the proposed amendment or modification. Except with respect to a troubled housing authority, HUD’s failure to issue a notice of disapproval on or before the 75th day after the PHA submits the Plan (or any significant amendment or modification to the Plan), will be deemed as HUD approval of the Plan as submitted. For troubled housing authorities, HUD must approve or disapprove the Plan in writing.

    Procedure for a Modification (Revised)

    24 CFR 903.7(r)(2) permits PHAs to define what would constitute a "significant amendment" or a "substantial deviation/modification" in Section 18(D) of its Annual Plan. If a PHA does not include a definition for these phrases in its annual plan, then HUD will consider the adoption of a site-based waiting list a significant amendment to the original plan and will require the housing authority to adhere to the following procedures outlined in 24 CFR 903.21 including:


    1. seeking the recommendations of the Resident Advisory Board;
    2. ensuring the modification is consistent with the Consolidated Plan by obtaining a certification of consistency for the appropriate local or state official;
    3. conducting a public hearing regarding the modification after 45 days’ notice;
    4. adopting of the modification by the PHA’s Board of Directors at a public meeting; and
    5. gaining HUD’s approval of the modification.


    1 This policy alert does not incorporate the provisions of the final "Rule to Deconcentrate Poverty and Promote Integration in Public Housing" (24 CFR Part 903, December 22, 2000). Readers should be aware that this rule could significantly affect many issues discussed in this policy alert.