HUD Publishes 2020 Income Limits

HUD recently published the income limits for HUD programs. These new income limits are effective as of April 1, 2020. HUD sets income limits that determine eligibility for assisted housing programs including:

  • Public Housing;
  • Section 8 Project-Based;
  • Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher;
  • Section 202 Housing for the Elderly; and
  • Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities programs.

HUD develops annual income limits based on Median Family Income estimates and Fair Market Rent area definitions. The national median family income for the United States for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 is $78,500, an increase of almost 4 percent over the national median family income in FY 2019. Income limits are also adjusted according to family size and in areas with unusually high or low incomes relative to housing costs. The 2020 income limits can be found at

All new certifications effective April 1 or later will include the new income limits. Managers should remember that income limits are considered only at move-in and, in very limited cases, at the initial certification [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-4]. Income limit changes don’t affect current residents’ eligibility for the HUD Multifamily Housing programs (Section 8, PRAC, etc.) when that resident is already receiving subsidy/housing assistance.

If you’ve already extended a unit offer and your new resident’s income exceeds the new income limit, you can still honor that move-in. According to HUD’s RHIIP ListServ #293, if a unit becomes available and an applicant is selected from the waiting list, is processed for eligibility, and meets all eligibility requirements at the time of processing, the applicant is eligible to move into the unit even if new income limits have been published. If this situation applies, be sure to document the household file appropriately.

COVID-19 Impact on HUD-Issued Income Limits

The COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t have an impact on the calculation of the 2020 income limits. HUD income limits are based on historical data using the 2017 American Community Survey, the 2017 consumer price index (CPI), and the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the 2020 CPI from January.

Next year, the income limits for 2021, however, will be based, in part, on the estimate for the 2021 CPI. As a result, if the economy is struggling, then there will be a downward shift to the income limits. And, in subsequent years, the pandemic’s impact on the income limits will be greater as it affects the American Community Survey data. The biggest effect will occur in three years for 2023, as HUD will use 2020 American Community Survey data to calculate the income limits then.