How to Apply for the NIRHA programs

How do I apply for public housing or Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program?

These are the ways to apply for the NIRHA housing programs:

  1. You can apply online by following the link below.

Download Application


After you submit an online application, it can take up to two weeks for the information to be processed and for your status on the waitlistcheck site to be updated. If you apply online, please check your status online by visiting

  1. You may pick up an application at NIRHA’s office, 202 First Street SE, Suite 203, Mason City, Iowa.

What happens after you receive my Preliminary Application?
Applications are marked with date and time when submitted online or received in NIRHA’s office.  Applications received by mail are date and time stamped based on the order they are opened.  Applications are then reviewed for determination of apparent eligibility and applicants are notified within three weeks of their status.


Very Important! The Preliminary Application must be mailed to or dropped off at the NIRHA office. Do not fax or email the completed form to our office. Doing so will delay your application for processing. If you email or fax the preliminary application, you will be contacted to send the originals in the mail.


What information or documents do I need to provide when I apply?
With the preliminary application, you are required to submit a copy of a Social Security card for all household members and a photo ID for household members age 18 years old and older. 


If applying online, please provide these documents as soon as possible after you submit your application.


Contact the office for assistance or additional information. 


Is your waiting list currently open?
Yes, our waiting lists are all currently open.


Note:  Waiting lists are opened and closed based on availability of units and funding and the length of existing waiting lists. Closings will be posted on this website.


How long are the waiting lists?
Currently the wait for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher is estimated to be six to nine months for applicants who can claim the Residency Preference. The wait for applicants without this preference is several years.


The wait for Public Housing is dependent on when an unit is vacated. We cannot give a time frame for the waiting list for this program.


What is the difference in your programs?
NIRHA currently administers two programs: Public Housing and Section 8. To learn more about Public Housing, you can go to the information page here or download the brochure here. To learn more about the Section 8 program, you can go to the information page here or download the brochure here.


Public Housing properties are owned by NIRHA and the Authority manages and leases the properties. Units owned and managed by NIRHA are leased to low-income people on an income-based rental, or at a flat rental rate, depending upon what the resident chooses.

Housing Choice Voucher properties are owned and managed by private landlords who are willing to participate with the Voucher program.  NIRHA subsidizes part of the resident's rent to the landlord making the housing affordable for the resident.


When can I expect a response to my application ?
If you applied online, you can go to the waitlistcheck site to check your status. Please wait two weeks before checking your status to allow us to process the application. Do not call the NIRHA office for your status. This is only available to applicants who have submitted an application online.


Check Status


If you send a paper application, please allow at least two weeks to receive a response to your application. Please refrain from calling our office until this time elapses to allow us time to put your application in our system. If you call before this time, we may not be able to answer any questions. You will receive a letter from us when your application has been entered into the waiting list.


When you check your status on the waiting list, we can verify that you are active on the waiting list but you will not be given a number. 



PUBLIC HOUSING ONLY:  NIRHA administers a site-based waiting list system.  Therefore, some sites may have longer waiting lists than other sites.  Applicants may appear on as many site lists as they desire, depending upon eligibility factors (family sites compared to elderly sites and number of bedrooms needed by the applicant).