- What’s out there?
- Start with a basic list of applications
- Personalize it
- When should my family member apply?
- How do I even begin?
What’s out there?
Did you know there are many other types of housing you can apply for? Applying for these other kinds of housing for your family member can speed up the process of finding housing. Let’s start with an overview by watching the video “There’s more to searching for housing . . . than just Section 8”. (Subtitled versions and transcripts of this video in Arabic, Chinese, Haitian-Creole, Portuguese, Spanish, and Vietnamese are available on the Translations page.)
As the video points out, when you apply for more types of housing, you are likely to get housing faster. But there are literally over 5,000 housing lists in Massachusetts. Where do you apply?
Start with a basic list of applications
At Autism Housing Pathways, we generally suggest a basic set of applications to maximize your chances of getting housing, without turning applying into a full-time job.
That list comprises:
- Section 8 portable (the Centralized Waiting List and the DHCD regional non-profit list — these vouchers can be used anywhere in the state)
- The Common Housing Application for Massachusetts Public Housing (CHAMP) application for site-based state housing
- AHVP portable (these vouchers can be used anywhere in the state)
- As of July 2020, AHVP vouchers can be applied for by filling out a special section of the CHAMP application
- 3 additional applications that are appropriate to your situation — these might include site-based federal housing, MRVP (either portable or site-based), or private affordable housing. A very good way to identify these applications is by using www.HousingWorks.net.
Before finalizing your list, consider your situation. First, using a checklist, ask yourself these questions:
- Does my family member need to rent from family as a reasonable accommodation for disability? In that case, a portable voucher may be the only option.
- Does my family member need a live-in aide? In that case, elderly housing is generally not a good bet, as the vast majority of units in elderly housing have only one bedroom.
- Can my family member live alone, but needs prompting throughout the process of activities like showering (not just reminders)? In that case, site-based housing might be a good idea, as it permits MassHealth or CommonHealth members to use a drop-in service called Group Adult Foster Care that cannot be used with a portable voucher.
- Where does my family member live now? State and federal site-based housing lists use local preference. Your family member is unlikely to get in if they apply in a community they don’t live in now. If your goal is to live in a different community, private affordable housing may be the only site-based option.
- There are some towns and organizations that have portable Section 8 applications that have different waiting lists than either the Centralized Waiting List or the DHCD regional non-profit list. Are any of them appropriate for my family member? To learn more, go to https://18section8.org/index.php/applying-for-section-8/#Additional
Some additional questions can’t be answered until you have actually started filling out the CHAMP or searching on www.HousingWorks.net. These are:
- Am I comfortable with my family member living at a specific state or federal property? Some housing authorities will remove your name from all of that housing authority’s lists if you turn down a unit when you reach the top. Take a look at the map, or consider visiting the neighborhood. Only apply for what you are willing to take. (But don’t worry too much — you can generally remove your name from the list for a specific location if you are not yet at the top.)
- Are there MRVP units or portable vouchers in my family member’s town? If so, consider applying. These units and vouchers have local preference, so they stand a good chance of eventually getting one. Look for MRVP in your search results when you are identifying your 3 additional applications on www.HousingWorks.net.
When should my family member apply?
Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from 3-12 years to get to the top of a housing list. If the goal is to have your family member living outside the family home by age 30, start getting on lists at 18. They are not allowed to apply earlier than that. As a rule of thumb, the timeline goes:
- 18: Section 8 (that’s why this website has this name — clever, right?)
- 20-21: site-based Section 8, federal and state family housing, MRVP, private affordable housing
- 22: AHVP, elderly/disabled housing
How do I even begin?
Autism Housing Pathways has created a Housing Search and Application Grid. (Translations of the grid in Arabic, Chinese, Haitian-Creole, Portuguese, Spanish, and Vietnamese are available on the Translations page.) The grid corresponds to the chart you saw in the video. It is color coded and has links for portable Section 8, the CHAMP application (including AHVP vouchers), and www.HousingWorks.net. This grid is your road map for filling out applications.
- Remember, your basic list is:
- Section 8 portable (Gold)
- The CHAMP (Blue)
- AHVP (Blue)
- 3 others using www.HousingWorks.net (Purple)
- Use your checklist to personalize it
- Detailed directions for each type are at www.18Section8.org; click on “Other ways to apply for housing”, then check the sub-menus for Section 8, The CHAMP, and HousingWorks.
- Track your applications using a spreadsheet.
- The checklist and spreadsheet are at https://18section8.org/index.php/document-library/. (Translations of both the checklist and spreadsheet into Arabic, Chinese, Haitian-Creole, Portuguese, Spanish, and Vietnamese are available on the Translations page.)
Before you begin, check out the next page, where we talk about application tips and tricks. These will help you fill out applications correctly, make sure they get to the right place, and help you keep your applications active.
(Please note that nothing on this website is intended as legal advice, there is no guarantee the information provided is accurate, and using the information provided does not guarantee one will receive a housing voucher. For a complete legal disclaimer, please click here.)