Frequently Asked Questions

What is public housing?

Public housing is a program funded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which provides affordable rental opportunities for eligible low-income families, elderly, and persons with disabilities. SMHA owns and operates  2,544 units of public housing ranging in size from efficiencies, 1 bedrooms, 2 bedrooms, 3 bedrooms, 4 bedrooms, and 5 bedrooms. SMHA’s mission is to provide eligible residents of Stark County with quality affordable housing in decent, safe, and nourishing neighborhoods.

How do I know if my family is eligible for the Public Housing Program?

The Public Housing Program strives to provide affordable housing choices for families who meet the income eligibility requirements established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Most individuals or families who receive Social Security, SSI, or TANF benefits will qualify. Working individuals and families may also qualify if their gross income is equal to or below the income limits established by HUD.  HUD updates the income limits every year.  They are based on the total annual income and total number of people in the household.

How do I apply?

Families wishing to apply for housing with Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority (SMHA) can access the online application by going to the SMHA website at

By clicking on the Click here to apply for housing! tab located in the upper right of the webpage, you will be taken to the online application page of the SMHA website. Simply click on the Online Applications tab to start the process.

For those people who need assistance completing an online application, appointments are available at the SMHA administrative offices, or an online application can be completed over the phone with an SMHA Intake Specialist.

How does the application process work?

All applicants will be screened for eligibility for the Public Housing Program. Applicants who are placed on the SMHA waiting list will be assigned positions on the waiting list based on the local preferences that they are qualified to receive, as well as the date and time that they submitted their application.

Once an applicant has risen to the top of the waiting list, they will be pulled from the waiting list to begin the final eligibility screening. Applicants will be invited to a lease-up briefing, where they will provide the Housing Authority with all of the required documents that are necessary for SMHA to verify a family’s eligibility for the program.

When a unit becomes available, SMHA Intake Specialists will contact applicants to offer them the available unit.

How many unit offers will I receive?

Applicants will have the opportunity to select their preferred location within Stark County when they apply for housing. SMHA maintains 7 different waiting lists based on geographical areas within Stark County. By selecting a preferred geographic location at the time of application, SMHA will be sure to only make unit offers for housing developments that are located within the geographic area that the applicant selected. Because the applicant has already pre-selected their geographic area of preference, they will only receive one unit offer.

How much will my rent be?

All rent is calculated on a per family basis. All rents are determined by a HUD calculation which uses a combination of your income less allowable deductions. Residents generally pay 30% of their adjusted monthly income in rent.

How long will I be on the waiting list?

SMHA is unable to give a definite wait time for public housing units. There are several factors that affect a person’s time on the waiting list. The biggest factor in determining the wait time is the number of applicants that SMHA has for each bedroom size in each of the 7 different areas we have waiting lists for. Additionally, wait times will be determined by the rate at which our existing residents vacate available units.

However, SMHA does purge the waiting list annually to determine if all applicants are still in need of housing. Each family on the waiting list will be contacted to determine if they are still interested in housing. Those applicants who do not respond will be removed from the waiting list. If an applicant is removed from the waiting list, they will need to re-apply for housing.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to notify SMHA if there is a change of address. Applicants can update their application online.

What if I am denied for housing?

Applicants who have been denied housing may request a hearing with SMHA. Within ten (10) days of receiving a denial letter from SMHA, applicants may submit a written request for a hearing to review their denial. All requests should be sent to:

Attn: Application Hearing Request
400 Tuscarawas Street East
Canton, OH 44702