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What is Public Housing

Public housing is one of the nation’s three main rental assistance programs, along with Housing Choice Vouchers and Project-Based Rental Assistance. Public housing developments provide affordable homes to 1.8 million low-income Americans.

The nation’s 958,000 public housing units are located in all 50 states and several territories, with 1 in 5 of them in rural areas. As of 2019, only 47 percent of public housing homes were in low- or moderate-poverty areas, or where less than 30 percent of people had low incomes. Public housing is concentrated in racially segregated, under-resourced neighborhoods, due in part to a long history of racial bias in siting decisions and other discriminatory public policies.

In 2018, a total of 552,830 people were experiencing homelessness on a single night. Most people experiencing homelessness are individuals (67 percent). The remainder (33 percent) are people in families with children. US public housing began under President Roosevelt, during the Depression when unemployment was 20 to 25 percent. Public housing was established to provide decent and safe rental housing for eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. Public housing comes in all sizes and types, from scattered single family houses to high rise apartments for elderly families. There are approximately 1.2 million households living in public housing units, managed by some 3,300 Housing Authorities. While the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) oversees the public housing program, it is administered locally by about 2,900 public housing agencies and contrary to public belief, is not owned by the city. Public housing is one of the nation’s three main rental assistance programs, along with “Section 8” vouchers and project-based rental assistance.

The federal government funds public housing through two main streams:

(1) the Public Housing Operating Fund, which is intended to cover the gap between the rents that public housing tenants pay and the developments’ operating costs (such as maintenance and security); and

(2) the Public Housing Capital Fund, which funds renovation of developments and replacement of items such as appliances and heating and cooling equipment. Both streams have long been deeply underfunded.


The Housing Authority of Dry Ridge was established in 1983. We do not administer Section 8 nor accept vouchers. Section 8 deals with private housing, while public housing consists of entire developments of government-sponsored dwellings. Section 8, or the Housing Choice Voucher Program, gives vouchers to eligible applicants, who then use them to help pay rent in private housing. If you get into public housing, you must live in the community where you applied. Tenants in public housing generally pay about 30% of their income for rent if utilities are included and less than 30% if utilities are not included. If you would like to apply to our program, please go to the home page and click on apply. 

“A strong economy causes an increase in the demand for housing; the increase in the demand for housing drives real-estate prices and rentals through the roof. And then affordable housing becomes completely inaccessible.

                                                           — William Baldwin

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