How to apply to Philadelphia’s reopened housing voucher waiting list

The City of Philadelphia is temporarily reopening its Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) waiting list as a lottery, giving thousands of families a chance to receive rental assistance.

Beginning Jan. 23 at 6 a.m., individuals and families will have two weeks to apply to the federal rental assistance program. The final day to apply is Sunday, Feb. 5 at 5:59 p.m.

Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) will select 10,000 households by March 1 to be placed on the waiting list. The households will be chosen at random, a departure from the authority’s typical procedure of choosing candidates on a first come, first served basis. The lottery will give each household an equal opportunity to be chosen for the waiting list, according to PHA President and CEO Kelvin A. Jeremiah.

The HCV program works by paying a portion of rent to private property owners. Program participants contribute 30% of their household’s monthly adjusted income (or the monthly minimum rent requirement of $50, whichever is greater), while the voucher covers the rest. Any income-eligible family or individual can apply.

PHA’s waiting list lottery has been closed since 2010, when the 55,000 applicants waiting for rental assistance far exceeded the number of vouchers allocated. The authority is anticipating a similar number of applications over the two-week open period. By capping the waiting list to 10,000 households, PHA stated it could potentially accept more applicants within the next three years.

Here’s what you should know on how to apply to the HCV program waiting list:

  • Applications for the HCV Waiting List Lottery must be submitted online at or by phone at (215) 999-3102. Paper forms are not available. PHA will not accept applications after 5:59 p.m. on Feb. 5.
  • You will need a phone number, your current address (if you have one), mailing address where you can be contacted, your household’s combined annual income and the head of household’s full name, date of birth, social security number or alien registration number.
  • Current PHA public housing applicants who want to be considered for the HCV waiting list must submit a new application online.
  • Preference will be given to people who live, work or were hired to work within the City of Philadelphia.
  • PHA will notify all applicants of the results of the lottery by March 1, using the mailing address and email listed in the application.
  • Once the households are selected, PHA will determine their eligibility (including the residency preference) before issuing vouchers.

For more information on the HCV program waiting list, including income eligibility requirements, click here. You can also call (215) 999-3102 for assistance.

Though not affiliated with the HCV program, Clarifi offers several counseling services to renters, including tenant guidance, eviction mediation and rental assistance applications, as well as financial planning. Clarifi ensures that people of all income levels, backgrounds, and life situations can access the guidance and tools they need to achieve financial resilience. Call 215-563-5665 to schedule an appointment and learn how we can help you take charge of your finances.