What is public housing?

Public housing is federally-funded subsidized rental housing for low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) distributes federal subsidies to the Housing Authority, which owns and manages the housing for low-income residents at affordable rents. Public housing in the Housing Authority jurisdiction is primarily single-family houses and duplexes. The City of Iowa City owns 81 public housing units; the Housing Authority serves as the landlord and rents these units to eligible tenants.

Who qualifies for public housing?

There are six eligibility requirements for admission to public housing:

  1. The applicant must qualify as a family
  2. Have an income within the income limits
  3. Meet citizenship/eligible immigrant criteria
  4. Provide documentation of Social Security numbers, birth certificates, photo identification
  5. Sign HUD consent form 9886 and other Housing Authority required authorization documents
  6. Has not been involved in drug-related or criminal behavior or has not displayed a pattern of other criminal behavior in the past 5 years.

In addition to the eligibility criteria, families must also meet the Housing Authority suitability criteria in order to be admitted to Public Housing.

What are the income limits?

To qualify for Public Housing, participants must earn no more than 80% of area median income for the Iowa City MSA .


The ICHA will select families based on the following preferences within each bedroom size category:

Preference categories

The date and time of application will be noted and utilized to determine the sequence within the above-prescribed preferences.

NOTE: The use of a residency preference will not have the purpose or effect of delaying or otherwise denying admission to the HCV program based on the race, color, ethnic origin, gender, religion, disability, or age of any member of an applicant family.

Accessible Units: Accessible units will be first offered to families who may benefit from the accessible features. Applicants for these units will be selected utilizing the same preference system as outlined above. If there are no applicants who would benefit from the accessible features, the units will be offered to other applicants in the order that their names come to the top of the waiting list. Such applicants, must accept a transfer (at their own expense) if, at a future time, a family requiring an accessible feature applies. Any family required to transfer will be given a 30-day notice. 

Criminal background checks

The Housing Authority conducts criminal background checks on all applicants 18 years of age and older. If applicants fail to report arrests, charges, or convictions, they may be ineligible for housing assistance.

How do I apply?

Click here to apply

How long can I expect to wait before receiving assistance?

Waiting times are based on our best guess and are hard to accurately predict. As participants leave the program, assistance is offered to people currently on the waiting list. We assist applicants in order of their date and time of application based on unit availability.

Is Public Housing portable?

No, Public Housing Rental Assistance is not portable and does not transfer with you. This assistance is attached to the Public Housing unit rented to you and you will not have a voucher, as you would with the Section 8 Rental Assistance Program.

Emergency housing

The Housing Authority does not provide emergency housing assistance. If you need housing right away, consult the Community Resources page.

What happens if I move before I reach the top of the list?

We contact people by mail when they are at the top of the waiting list. Periodically, we may also contact people by mail to update information on our waiting list.

It is very important that we have a current mailing address for you at all times. Your mailing address must be updated in writing.

Electronic requests:

We do not accept e-mails for address changes. Electronic changes of address/information must be submitted through our AssistanceCheck system. Contact the Housing Authority at icha@iowa-city.org to request instructions for setting up your account.

Written requests may be sent to:

Iowa City Housing Authority
410 E Washington Street
Iowa City, Iowa 52240

If we try to contact you and you haven't updated your address, your application will be CANCELED and you will have to reapply for the program.

We recommend that you keep all receipts and correspondence from the Housing Authority as a record of your contacts with us.

What if I'm currently homeless?

If you are homeless, we must have a mailing address for you. You can use the address of a friend or relative. We recommend that you use the address of someone who will be able to get in touch with you.