Are you accepting applications?
For information on the status of our waiting lists, visit our Waiting List/Application Process page.
What does it mean if the waiting list is closed?
If a waiting list is closed, this means that the BCHA’s programs are still operating; however, due to the large number of families who are currently waiting for assistance, we are not accepting new applications.
Do you have emergency housing assistance?
No. The BCHA does not have any type of emergency housing in either its public housing or Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) programs. If you are in need of emergency housing, you may wish to contact the Berks Coalition to End Homelessness at (610) 372-7222 or BCAP at (610) 376-6571.
What are some of the reasons that could prevent me from getting housing assistance?
There are many reasons why an application may be denied, including, but not limited to:
- Failed criminal background check
- Previous evictions
- Income over the federally-mandated income limits
- Failure to appear for scheduled appointments
- Failure to provide necessary documents or information for us to determine eligibility.
All denials are based on the policies and regulations found in our Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP) for public housing and our Administrative Plan for the HCV program. The BCHA is prohibited by federal law from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, familial status, and disability.
How does the BCHA determine the ranking for the waiting list?
The BCHA gives a preference to three categories of applicants:
- veterans and surviving spouses of veterans, and
- applicants who live or work in Berks County, Pennsylvania (residency preference).
Applicants who qualify for the veterans’ preference are given 4 preference points on our waiting list. Applicants who qualify for the residency preference are given 2 preference point on our waiting list. Applicants will be positioned on the waiting list by number of preference points. Applicants who pay more than 50% of income in rent preference are given 1 preference point.
The BCHA will use one of two systems to place applicants on the waiting list. The BCHA may use a “lottery” system, in which each application is randomly given a number. Under this system, it makes no difference when your application is submitted; each application has the same chance of being chosen. The BCHA will select a certain number of applications, ordered by preference category and then by assigned number, to be placed on the waiting list; the rest will not be selected and will have to reapply when the waiting list reopens.
Alternatively, the BCHA may accept all applications. In this case, applications will be ordered by preference category and, within each preference category, by the date and time the application was received by our office.
How long will I have to wait? / What is my status on the waiting list?
You may check your status on the waiting list in our computer system by clicking the link below:
We cannot provide any estimate of how long you will have to wait, because your position on the waiting list changes every day based on other applicants’ changing circumstances. Thus, there is no way to predict how long it will take until we contact you.
After your application is placed on the waiting list, you will receive a postcard in the mail. Keep this postcard. This postcard is your confirmation that we have received your application and placed you on the waiting list. It is the only correspondence you will receive from us regarding the status of your application, until your name nears the top of the waiting list. If you do not receive this postcard in the mail, your application may not have been received or may not have been accepted.
From time to time we update our waiting lists in order to make sure we have the most current information about applicants, and to make sure all applicants are still interested in being on the waiting list. We will send a short questionnaire to the most recent address we have on file for you. You will be required to fill out the questionnaire and return it to us by mail, fax, or email. Failure to return this questionnaire will result in your name being removed from the waiting list.
What happens when my name reaches the top of the waiting list?
When your name nears the top of the waiting list, you will receive an application packet in the mail with a date and time to attend an intake interview at our office. The packet will contain a full application for housing assistance (called a Personal Declaration) and a list of documents to bring with you. You will need to bring identification, social security cards and birth certificates for every person who will reside with you, and documentation for any assets and sources of income.
The intake interview will take approximately 45 minutes. After the interview, the BCHA will verify the information you have provided and conduct a criminal background check for everyone in the household over the age of 18. Once we decide whether you are eligible or ineligible, you will be notified by letter, usually within four to eight weeks.
If you are determined eligible for the public housing program, we will begin offering you public housing units that meet your needs, in the developments you have selected, as units become available.
If you are determined eligible for the Housing Choice Voucher Program, you will be invited to a briefing, where you will learn the rules and regulations of the program. At the briefing you will receive your Housing Choice Voucher, which will allow you to begin searching for a unit of your choice with a private landlord.
What if someone in my household does not have a Social Security number or card?
All members of your household must have a Social Security number or card. If you cannot locate your card, we will accept a printout from the Social Security office documenting your SSN.
What if someone in my family does not have a photo ID?
Everyone in your household age 18 or over must submit a photo ID. There are no exceptions.
May I add or remove family members from my application?
You may request to add or remove family members from your application. Any request to add somebody to your household must be approved by the BCHA. All adult members will be subject to a criminal background check as well as a check of whether they owe any debts to us or to another housing authority. Any member of the household that you remove from your household is prohibited from living in the subsidized unit.
If I have moved since the time I submitted my application, do I need to notify the BCHA?
Yes! You must report any change of address to the BCHA, either in person or in writing, at the following address:
BERKS COUNTY HOUSING AUTHORITY
1803 Butter Lane
Reading, PA 19606
Our office is located in the Richard B. Delp Townhouses. We are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM.
You may also report changes by writing a brief letter that includes your name, social security number, and both old and new addresses or phone numbers. For changes of employment include employer’s name, address, and phone number, rate of pay and number of hours worked per week. You may fax this letter to (610) 370-2766 or mail it to the BCHA at the address above. We do not accept changes by phone – they MUST be in writing.
Please note: reporting a change of address at the post office will NOT change your address with the BCHA. You must update us separately.
Most of our communication with you will be conducted by mail. This is why it is extremely important to keep us updated with your current address. If a letter we send you is returned undeliverable by the post office, your name will be removed from the waiting list without further notice.
I have gotten married, had a baby, adopted a child, divorced, lost my job, gotten a raise, or something else since I submitted my application. How will this affect me?
If your family size has changed in any way, you must notify the BCHA in writing. The addition or removal of family members may change the unit size (number of bedrooms) you qualify for.
Changes in your income may affect your eligibility or the amount of assistance you will be entitled to. You do not need to report changes of income before your intake interview, but after your intake interview you are required to keep us updated.
I no longer need housing assistance. How can I remove my name from the waiting list?
If you no longer want to be on the waiting list, you must notify us in writing. Please write to the BCHA at 1803 Butter Lane, Reading, PA 19606, and include your name and social security number. Should you be interested in housing assistance in the future, you may reapply when the waiting list is open.
Do I have to be a citizen to apply for housing assistance?
No, you do not have to be a citizen; however, you must have eligible immigration status. At the time of the eligibility interview, everyone in the household will be required to declare their citizenship status and provide proof of identity. Non-citizens with eligible immigration status will be required to provide proof of eligible immigration status as well.
What is the maximum amount of income that I can earn in order to qualify for assistance?
The income limits are determined by HUD and change every year. The following are the income limits effective 5/15/2023:
|Public Housing Income Limit
|Housing Choice Voucher Income Limit
Your income must be under the Public Housing income limit to be eligible for public housing, and under the HCV income limit in order to be eligible for the HCV program. In addition, HUD requires that 75% of HCV participants also meet the Extremely Low Income (ELI) limits.
How much will I pay in rent?
Your rent is based on your income. As a general guideline, you will pay approximately 30 percent of adjusted monthly income as rent, up to a maximum of 40 percent for the HCV program.
There are many factors that go into our calculations. Please refer to the HUD fact sheet on how your rent is determined, as well as a worksheet showing how we calculate your rent amount.