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Types of Housing Programs

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Last Updated December 2009

There are three basic types of government-funded housing in Massachusetts that help make rents more affordable for low- and moderate-income people:

  • Public housing

    Public housing is owned and run by a local housing authority. If you live in public housing, the housing authority is your landlord.
  • Vouchers

    A voucher is rental assistance to help people find an apartment in the private market. This is also called a tenant-based subsidy because the subsidy stays with the tenant, not a particular development. Sometimes the rental assistance may be issued for, or temporarily stay with, the housing development, but the tenant may be free to move with the subsidy in the future. See the discussion of project-based vouchers and enhanced vouchers, below.
  • Multifamily Subsidized Housing

    Multifamily subsidized housing is owned by a private landlord or corporation that has received government subsidies to provide affordable housing. This is also called a project-based subsidy because the subsidy stays with the housing development (project), not a particular tenant. Often, affordable apartments are in the same development as market-rate apartments.

Within each of these three types of housing, there are many different affordable housing programs—each with its own rules. Programs at a Glance lists the major rental housing programs in Massachusetts.

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