2019 Waitlist Common Questions

Common Questions

2019 Low-Income Housing Waitlist


We will continue to update this page with common questions. 



  1. I want to apply to the waitlist. What should I do?

The waitlist is open from October 7 at 8am to October 18, 2019 at 5pm PST. Visit www.tacomahousing.org/waitlist to apply.

Do not use any other website to apply. It is free to apply for our waitlist. Some fake web sites charge money for what they say is a way to apply. They are fake web sites put up by dishonest people to cheat you.


  1. What are the income limits for the Tacoma Housing Authority waitlist?

The before taxes income requirements for our apartments vary. Some units are for households making up to 30% of the Area Median Income (AMI) and other units are for households making 50% or 60% AMI. To be eligible for our Housing Opportunity Program voucher, your total income (before taxes) must be at or below 50% AMI.

If your income is at or below 60% of the area median income it is likely that your income meets our requirements. Check the table below to confirm.

Number of People in Your Household











Not Eligible

Not Eligible










  1. I am a one or two person household. Why can't I apply?
    Our current waitlist has a lot of smaller households still waiting their turn. Our waitlist does have room for larger households though, which is why we are opening it to households with three or more people. 


  1. If I apply, does that mean I get on the waitlist?

No. We expect thousands of applications during the application period. When the application period ends, we remove duplicate and incomplete applications. Then, we randomly choose around 1,200 names from the completed applications. We will put those names on our waitlist.


  1. I need help with the online application process. How do I get help?

We can help you complete the application over the phone. Call (253) 448-2738 or visit one of our application centers and someone will help you. See locations below.


  1. I need help but I am not comfortable giving you my information over the phone, what should I do?

You can come to one of our application centers and someone can help you complete the application.


  1. Where can I go to find a computer to apply?

Tacoma Housing Authority Application Centers

Other Locations

Tacoma Public Libraries

Main Office
902 South L Street


6315 South 19th St.

Main: 1102 Tacoma Ave South

Fern Hill: 765 South 84th St

Salishan Family Investment Center
1724 East 44th Street


Kobetich: 212 Brown’s Point Blvd NE

Moore: 215 South 56th St

Mottet: 3523 East G St

South Tacoma: 3411 South 56th St

Swasey: 7001 Sixth Avenue

Wheelock: 3722 North 26th St


  1. Do I need a Social Security Number?

You do not need a Social Security Number to apply. At least one member of your household must have a valid Social Security Number to be eligible for our housing help.


  1. A member of my household is pregnant, how should I fill out the application? 

The first question on the application asks how many people are in your household. If a member of your household is pregnant, please include the unborn child or children when you add up the people in your household.  


  1. I made a mistake on my application. What should I do? 

Please reapply with the correct information. We will use your most recent application in the lottery. 


How the Waitlist Works

  1. If I get on the waitlist, where on the waitlist will I end up? How long will I have to wait to get to the top of the waitlist?

Once we randomly select the names for the waitlist we will then randomly number them. A person ending up at the bottom of that list will probably wait two years or more before they get to the top of the list.


  1. If I get on the waitlist and then get to the top of it, am I guaranteed to get housing assistance?

No. When you get to the top of the list, we check to make sure you are eligible under our program rules. Learn more about those rules on our eligibility page.


  1. I’m already on the waitlist. Do I need to apply again?

If you are already on the waitlist, then you do not need to reapply. To make sure you are on the list, you can email waitlist@tacomahousing.org. If you are on the waitlist and need to update your contact info, add or remove a family member, reapply for reinstatement or remove yourself from our waitlist. Please fill out this form.


  1. Will I improve my chances of being selected if I apply multiple times?

No, we will only count one of your applications.


  1. If I do not get on the waitlist, what can I do?

We are very sorry that we cannot serve everyone. If you do not get on the waitlist, here are some other steps you can take:

●     Apply again the next time we open our waitlist. That will probably be in another two or three years. You can sign up to get notified.

●     Apply for Pierce County Housing Authority’s waitlist

●     If you are currently experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness in Pierce County call Coordinated Entry at 253-682-3401.


Our Housing Programs

  1. What type of housing help is this waitlist for?

This waitlist is for two types of housing help:

  • Tacoma Housing Authority owned apartments
  • The Housing Opportunity Program (HOP), a voucher program that replaced Section 8.


  1. Will I get to choose between a THA apartment and a HOP Voucher?

Over the next year, most of our housing help will be offers to live at one of our apartments. If you are offered a HOP voucher, you may turn it down and continue waiting for an offer to live at one of our apartments.


  1. If I get offered a THA apartment that I do not want, can I turn it down?

You can only turn down a unit offer if you have a good reason, or “good cause”. If you do not have a good cause you can decline the unit and wait for a HOP Voucher. You will not get another offer for a Tacoma Housing Authority apartment.


  1. What is good cause?

An applicant may only turn down a unit for good cause once. Examples of good cause show below.

If accepting our apartment offer would require the adult household member to:

  • break a lease;
  • quit a job;
  • drop out of school, college, an educational institution, or job training program;
  • take a child out of day care; or
  • take a child out of an educational program for children with disabilities.

We require documentation of good cause for unit refusals.


  1. What's the difference between a Tacoma Housing Authority apartment and a HOP Voucher?


Tacoma Housing Authority Apartment

HOP Voucher


We own apartments throughout Tacoma. Some of these include, but are not limited to homes at Salishan, Bay Terrace and Wright Street Apartments. Some of our apartments are for households with or without children, others are for senior/disabled households.

The HOP (Housing Opportunity Program) helps low-income households pay the rent each month to private landlords. It replaced the Section 8 program. HOP pays a fixed rate towards your rent based on household size.

Where you live

We will offer you a specific apartment at one of our properties. Some people may refer to this housing as Public Housing. You do not get to choose where to live. We do this so we can house more families and offer housing assistance within two years.

You can take a HOP voucher and rent an apartment on the private market anywhere in Tacoma.

Subsidy Amount

Your portion of the rent is based on your household income. Typically, a household pays around 30% of their income toward rent.


Your portion of the rent stays the same and is based on your household size. If your household income goes up, your share of the rent does not change. In this way, you keep all of your increased income. In the same way, if your household’s income goes down, your rent would not go down either. You would have to make up the difference.

In 2019, the HOP subsidy for a 3 or 4 person household is $633. A 5 or 6 person household gets $915.

Is there a time limit for the assistance?

No. Under present rules, you can stay in the unit as long as you need it and remain eligible.

If you want to move, your housing subsidy does not go with you.

There is a 5-year time limit for households that are able to work. If there is a work-able person in your household you will have a time limit.

There is no time limit for elderly or disabled households.

If I get on the waitlist how will I know if I am eligible to receive help?

Learn more about our eligibility rules.

Learn more about our eligibility rules.



  1. What is the purpose of the five-year time limit for people who can work?

The time limit for HOP vouchers serves two purposes.

  • It gives people an incentive to increase their income. We offer services to help them do that.
  • Second, a time limit recognizes that tens of thousands of other people also need help. Unfortunately, we cannot serve everyone who needs help. A time limit gives other people a turn.

We know that a time limit also means that people may lose their assistance even if they still need it for longer. We will grant limited extensions on the time limit in case of serious hardship.


  1. I’m a senior or person with a disability. Do the HOP time limit rules apply to me?

There are no time limits for seniors or people with disabilities if you do not have any household members that are able to work. However, you get the same fixed subsidy as other recipients.


  1. Why doesn’t THA offer Section 8 anymore?

In the HOP program, we reduced the amount of assistance that everyone gets. This allows us to manage budget cuts without removing anyone from the program or without reducing other services.


  1. I want Section 8 and not the HOP program. Do I have a choice?

No. We no longer offer the traditional Section 8 program to new applicants. HOP replaced it.


  1. Can I take the HOP voucher and move outside of Tacoma?

HOP participants are not eligible to relocate to another jurisdiction (we call this porting out). THA will only allow port outs for approved reasonable accommodations and anything that falls underneath the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) unless the receiving public housing authority absorbs the household.


Other Questions

  1. I’m homeless now. What do I do? How long will this take?

Our waitlist is not a way to get emergency help. Even if our lottery selects your application for the waitlist, it may take up to two years before you will get housing. If you are homeless now in Pierce County, your best option is to call Coordinated Entry at (253) 682-3401. You also can call 2-1-1 for referrals to other community resources. Pierce County Housing Authority also has their housing waitlist open. You may apply on their website


  1. ​What is Coordinated Entry?

Coordinated Entry is the best way to find out about most homeless assistance programs and receive assistance in Pierce County.


  1. I'm already on the waitlist but need to update my information, add or remove a household member, or remove my household from the waitlist. Where do I go? 

Please fill out this form. You may also fill this form out if you were removed from the waitlist in the last six months and would like to apply for reinstatement. 


  1. I have a question that hasn’t been answered.

Please contact us at (253) 448-2738 or email waitlist@tacomahousing.org