What Is Public Housing Authority?

By Brian Gawley - Updated September 26, 2017

A public housing authority is a legal entity authorized by a state to develop or administer low-rent public housing as defined in the U.S. Housing Act of 1937.

Housing Act of 1937 And Public Housing

The Housing Act of 1937 authorized the federal government to help cities and counties build low-rent housing and redevelop "slum" areas. Public housing aims to provide decent rental housing for low-income families, the disabled and the elderly. Approximately 3,300 housing authorities manage public housing for an estimated 1.2 million families, assisted by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funding. Public housing authorities also receive professional and technical help in managing, planning and developing public housing.

Created By Cities Or Counties

Public housing authorities or agencies are authorized by state law and created by cities or counties, which must adopt an activating resolution.

Separate Public Agency

Once authorized by a city or county and activated by resolution, a housing authority is a separate public body, a special purpose district—similar to a school district, public utility district or port authority—providing public housing.

About the Author

Brian Gawley has been a daily and weekly newspaper reporter since 1989, working for the "Whitman County Gazette," "Columbia Basin Herald," "Grand Coulee Star," "Peninsula Daily News" and "Sequim Gazette." Gawley is a Washington State University Honors Program graduate with a bachelor's degree in communications and a national research paper award winner.

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