Public Housing

Public housing was established to provide decent and safe rental housing for eligible families/households, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers Federal aid to local housing agencies (HAs) that manage the housing for residents at rents they can afford. HUD furnishes technical and professional assistance in planning, developing, and managing these developments.

Who is eligible?

Public Housing is limited to income-qualified families/households and disabled/elderly individuals. Our housing authority determines eligibility based on:

  1. Annual gross income
  2. Family status
  3. Criminal history

HUD sets income limits. (See table below)  Blount County is part of the Knoxville Metropolitan Area. Persons wanting to live in our public housing must have a gross household income at, or below, the “Low Income Limit” for the appropriate family/household size. For Broadway Towers, the household income must be at or lower than the "Very Low Income Limit".

Persons who are 18 or older and have a criminal record may be denied admission or evicted from our public housing developments.

How do I apply?

If you are interested in applying for public housing, you can apply HERE.

When will I be notified?

After reviewing your application, if it appears that your family/household is eligible, MHA will contact applicants by mail. If your address changes, you will need to update your application in person at the main office. If your family/household does not appear eligible when your application is reviewed, you will be notified by letter. You may speak with a housing authority representative regarding your application status in person (photo I.D. required) Monday through Thursday from 8 am until 5 pm Eastern Standard Time. We do not provide applicant information over the phone.

Will I have to sign a Lease?

If you are offered an apartment and accept it, you will have to sign a lease with MHA. You will also have to pay rent for the days remaining in the current month and a security deposit of $300.00.

How is rent determined?

Your rent would be based on your family/household’s anticipated gross annual income less deductions, if any. HUD allows MHA to exclude from annual income the following allowances: $480 for each dependent; $400 for any elderly or disabled adult household member; and some medical deductions for families headed by an elderly or disabled person. Tenant rent is the higher of:

  1. 30% of adjusted monthly income, or
  2. 10% of gross monthly income, or
  3. The minimum rent of $50.00
  4. The maximum rent set by the market area. Household income is reviewed at least annually and rents may be adjusted accordingly.


Certain types of pets are permitted, with one pet per household. Proof of vaccinations and a $200 non-refundable pet fee are required. Large dog breeds are not allowed, and a pet lease must be approved before bringing your pet to housing authority property. ( Does not apply to service animals.)


The waiting list for Section 8 is CLOSED as of May 9, 2022.

What are Housing Choice (Section 8) Vouchers?

The housing choice voucher program is the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income families/households, the elderly, and the disabled to rent decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the open market instead of subsidized housing developments. Since the rental assistance is provided on behalf of the family/household or individual, participants can find and lease privately owned housing, including single-family homes, apartments, and mobile homes. The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the program's requirements. A family/household’s portion of the rent is based on adjusted household income and is the greater of:

  1. 30% of adjusted monthly income
  2. 10% of gross monthly income
  3. A minimum rent of $50.00

After the family/household selects a home and the Authority has inspected and approved it for reasonable rent, the family/household will sign a lease with the chosen property owner and will be required to pay any security deposit designated by the lease. Any tenant-provided utilities will have to be on in the head of households name before the lease is signed.

Am I eligible?

MHA determines eligibility for a rental voucher based on your total annual gross income and family/household size. Your family/household income may not exceed the “very low-income level” for the Knoxville Metropolitan Area, which can be found at on HUD’s website.

All persons 18 or older will be subject to a criminal background check. Any criminal history may result in the denial of your application.

When will I be notified?

After reviewing your application, if it appears that your family/household is eligible, MHA will place your name on a waiting list. Once your name is reached on the waiting list, MHA will contact you by phone and/or by letter. If your family/household does not appear eligible when your application is reviewed, you will be notified by letter. You may speak with a housing authority representative regarding your application status in person (photo I.D. required) Monday through Thursday from 8 am until 5 pm Eastern Standard Time. We do not provide applicant information over the phone

Roles of the Tenant, the Landlord, the Housing Authority

Once MHA approves an eligible family/household’s lease and housing unit, the family/household and the landlord sign a lease. At the same time, the landlord and MHA sign a housing assistance contract which runs for the same term as the lease. This contract means that everyone – tenant, landlord, and the Housing Authority – has obligations and responsibilities within the voucher program.

  • Tenant's Role: When a family/household selects a housing unit, and MHA approves it and the lease, the family/household signs a lease with the landlord for at least one year. The tenant may be required to pay a security deposit to the landlord. After the first year, the landlord may initiate a new lease or allow the tenant to remain in the unit on a month-to-month lease. When the family/household is settled in a new home, the family/household is expected to comply with the lease and the program requirements, pay its share of rent on time, maintain the unit in good condition, and notify MHA of any changes in income or family composition.
  • Landlord's Role: The role of the landlord in the voucher program is to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing to a tenant at a reasonable rent. The dwelling unit must pass the program’s housing standards and be maintained up to those standards as long as the owner receives housing assistance payments. In addition, the landlord is expected to provide the services agreed to as part of the lease signed with the tenant and the contract signed with MHA.
  • MHA's Role: MHA provides a family/household with rental assistance that enables the family/household to seek out suitable housing and enters into a contract with the landlord to provide rental assistance payments on behalf of the family. If the family or the landlord fails to meet his/her obligations, MHA has the right to terminate assistance payments.


Tenants are responsible for paying landlord security and Utility Deposits before MHA can approve the initial lease. The total deposits can exceed $1,000 depending on the bedroom size and type of utilities not included in the contract rent.


MHA offers a preference for qualified local applicants and those who serve low-income households as an AmeriCorps Member in Blount County.


Portable voucher holders interested in moving into Blount County should have the issuing agency contact the Section 8 department at 865-983-4958 ext. 115.

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