Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Housing Rental Assistance Program Data

Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) Public Housing Agencies (PHAs)

Household-level and/or member-level data on residents who participate in HUD’s housing rental assistance programs, such as public housing, housing choice vouchers, and multifamily housing (including project-based section 8).

Unit of Observation:
Household level and/or individual level
Personally Identifiable Information Available for Linking:
United States of America
Years Available:
Frequency of Updates:

Residents participating in HUD's housing rental assistance programs


Housing rental assistance program data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are available to research organizations through a data license agreement for projects that are focused on one of HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research’s (PD&R) five current (as of January 2020) research priorities (Homeownership and housing finance, Affordable rental housing, Housing as a platform for improving quality of life, Sustainable and inclusive communities, and HUD assets). The principal investigator must complete a data license application and submit it to [email protected] Researchers must ensure that their research question cannot be answered by the publicly available information and requires the personally identifiable information (PII) in possession of HUD. As part of the application process, researchers must also have proper data security plans for safeguarding the confidentiality of HUD data, and agree to destroy all PII after the license has expired. Researchers may attach a research proposal with the application. 

If the request is approved, PD&R will send the requested data and variables with PII attached. Researchers will also need to adhere to the nondisclosure agreement and data privacy/disclosure rule set forth by PD&R.

Timeline for Access

It usually takes one month for the review of the application, a few weeks to process the paper work to execute the license after the application is approved, and additional one to two months to receive the data. Due to limited resources, HUD may temporarily cease accepting applications (as they did at the end of 2019), or redirect requests to the United States Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, or Center for Economic Studies, depending on the data elements requested.

After the license has expired, any data that has identifiable information that came from HUD must be destroyed, and HUD should be notified through a data destruction certification form unless a written extension is provided by HUD.

Lag Time

Records are updated annually with approximately a one-year lag, and are available from 2003 forward. Data extracts are a point-in-time estimate from HUD’s longitudinal file, pulled on December 31 of each year. For example, HUD indicated that data for 2019 (that is, data pulled on December 31, 2019) would be available in early January 2020. Data extracts contain only the most recent transaction for a household over the previous 18 months.


Access to HUD Housing Rental Assistance Program Data through the data license agreement is free.


Researchers may use the identifiers included in the variable list to link the data to external data sets. The researcher is required to list the names of the external data sets that the researcher plans to link to the requested HUD data in the data license application. PD&R will send the file, including identifiers, back to the researchers for matching.

Identifiers Available for Linking

  • Head of household Date of Birth
  • Household member Social Security number
  • Household member Date of Birth
  • Street Address

Linking to Outside Data Sources

This data set is available pre-linked with data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and are available through the NCHS research data centers. Researchers may also access additional linked data sets between HUD data and the Census Bureau through the Center for Administrative Records Research and Applications (CARRA). Researchers can access pre-linked data through restricted access arrangements with CARRA or NCHS research data centers.

Data Contents

HUD’s housing rental assistance program data are organized into two data sets: one at the household level and the other at the household member level. Both data sets contain data extracts from the PIH Information Center (PIC) database and the Tenant Rental Assistance Certification System (TRACS) database. The PIC database contains information on Public Housing and Section 8 rental subsidy programs collected from Form HUD-50058 (formerly known as the Multifamily Tenant Characteristics System) and Form HUD-50058 MTW (which is an abbreviated version of the form 50058 about tenant families in the Moving To Work program). See the data dictionary for information on available data elements. Researchers may request for additional data elements, which will be considered on a limited, case-by-case basis.

Partial List of Variables

Household-level data set: Type of program, household portion of rent, total amount of deductions, income sources and amount, household information (e.g., number of dependents, number of people in the household), and geographic variables (e.g., street address, zip code, congressional district, latitude, longitude).

Household member-level data set: Race/ethnicity, gender, citizenship status, relationship to head-of-household, income sources and amount.

J-PAL Randomized Evaluations Using this Data Set

Sanbonmatsu, Lisa, Lawrence F. Katz, Jeffrey B. Liebman, Jeffrey R. Kling. 2011. "Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing Demonstration Program: Interim Impacts Evaluation." Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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