Section 3 FAQs
Section 3 is a provision of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968. The purpose of Section 3 to ensure that employment and other economic opportunities generated by certain HUD financial assistance shall, to the greatest extent feasible, and consistent with existing Federal, State and local laws and regulations, be directed to low- and very low income persons, particularly those who are recipients of government assistance for housing, and to business concerns which provide economic opportunities to low – and very low-income persons.
By to the “Greatest Extent Feasible”, the Department means the every effort must be made to comply with the regulatory requirements of Section 3. By this, the Department means that recipients of Section 3 covered financial assistance should make every effort within their disposal to meet the regulatory requirements. For instance, this may mean going a step beyond normal notification procedures for employment and contracting procedures by developing strategies that will specifically target Section 3 residents and businesses for these types of economic opportunities.
A “section 3 resident” is: 1) a public housing resident; or 2) a low- or very low- income person residing in the metropolitan area or non-metropolitan county where the Section 3 covered assistance is expended.
Section 3 business concerns are businesses that can provide evidence that they meet one of the following criteria:
- 51 percent or more owned by Section 3 residents; or
- At least 30 percent of its full time employees include persons that are currently Section 3 residents, or were Section 3 residents within three years of the date of first hire*; or
- Provides evidence, as required, of a commitment to subcontract in excess of 25 percent of the dollar award of all subcontracts to business concerns that meet one of the first two qualifications above.
*Example: Alysha was an unemployed Section 3 resident that was first hired by ABC Company on January 1, 2011. She received a raise of $2,500 in March 2012, thereby boosting her household income above the local low income level. ABC Company may continue to count Alysha as one of their Section 3 employees until December 31, 2013 (i.e. within three years of the date of first hire).
Section 3 is both race and gender neutral. The preferences provided under this regulation are based on income-level and location. Section 3 regulations were designed to encourage recipients of HUD funding to direct new employment, training, and contracting opportunities to low-income residents, and the businesses that employ these persons, within their community regardless of race and/or gender.
To learn more about the Minority Business Enterprise and Women Business Enterprise programs, please contact HUD‘s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization at 202-708-1428, or visit their website, located at:
Low- and very-low-household income limits are determined annually by HUD. These limits are typically established at 80 percent and 50 percent of the median income for each locality by household size or the number of people residing in one house.
HUD income limits may be obtained from:
Metropolitan area means a metropolitan statistical area (MSA), as established by the Office of Management and Budget. A non-metropolitan county means any county outside of a metropolitan area.
A current list of MSAs can be found at:
A new hire means a full-time employee for a new permanent, temporary, or seasonal position that is created as a direct result of the expenditure of Section 3 covered financial assistance.
Yes. Any employee that was not on the payroll of a recipient, developer, or contactor on the day that Section 3 covered assistance was provided can be counted towards the Section 3 minimum numerical goal for employment.
A Section 3 covered project involves the construction or rehabilitation of housing (including reduction of lead-based paint hazards), or other public construction such as street repair, sewage line repair or installation, updates to building facades, etc.
A recipient is any entity which receives Section 3 covered assistance, directly from HUD or from another recipient (i.e., a PHA; unit of State or local government; property owner; developer; etc). It does not include contractors or any intended beneficiary under the HUD program to which Section 3 applies, such as a homeowner or a Section 3 resident.
Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) regardless of size or number of units are required to comply with Section 3. One exception is PHAs that only receive or administer tenant-based Housing Choice (Section 8) Vouchers and do not utilize any of the financial assistance described above. Although they are exempt, compliance with Section 3 is encouraged.
Section 3 also applies to recipients of more than $200,000 from housing and community development programs. The following are a list of examples of such funds:
- Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
- HOME Investment Partnership
- Neighborhood Stabilization Program Grants (NSP 1, 2 & 3)
- Economic Development Initiative (EDI)/Brownfield Economic Development Initiative Grants
- Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA)
- Homeless Assistance Grants (ESG)
- University Partnership Grants
- Economic Stimulus Funds (including CDBG-R and CFP Supplemental)
- 202/811 Grants
- Lead Hazard Control Grants
*Note: The requirements of Section 3 typically apply to recipients of HUD funds that will be used for housing construction, rehabilitation, or other public construction. Email the Economic Opportunity Division to determine applicability to a particular project/activity.
Yes. A non-profit organization can be a legitimate business concern. Non-profit organizations must meet the criteria of a Section 3 business concern as defined at 24 CFR Part 135.5 in order to receive Section 3 preference.
The Service area is the geographical area in which the persons benefiting from the Section 3 covered project reside. The Service Area shall not extend beyond the unit of local government in which the Section 3 covered financial assistance is expended.
Section 3 covered assistance includes:
- Public and Indian Housing Operating Subsidy; Capital Funds; or Modernization assistance; and
- Housing and community development assistance expended for housing rehabilitation, housing construction, or other public construction.
Funding thresholds are minimum dollar amounts that trigger Section 3 requirements. There are no thresholds for public and Indian housing (PIH) programs. The requirements of Section 3 apply to all PIH programs regardless of the amount of assistance received from HUD.
The Section 3 requirements apply to recipients of Housing and/or Community Development Assistance exceeding $200,000 combined from all sources in any one year. Section 3 covers the expenditure of any portion of those funds for any activity that involves housing construction, rehabilitation, or other public construction.
For example, a city receives $600,000 for CDBG, $150,000 in HOME Funding, and $75,000 in NSP funding. This represents a total of $825,000 in housing and community development assistance. As such, any construction or rehabilitation activities funded by the city using those funds is covered by Section 3.
No. Any agency that receives covered assistance that exceeds $200,000 is required to comply with the requirements of Section 3 whenever any projects involving housing construction, rehabilitation, or other public construction are administered, regardless of the actual dollar amount of covered assistance that is invested into the individual project/activity.
Section 3 applies to projects that are fully or partially funded with HUD financial assistance. Projects that are financed with state, local or private matching or leveraged funds used in conjunction with HUD funds are covered by Section 3.
All contracts (or subcontracts) funded with Public and Indian Housing assistance, regardless of dollar amount or type of contract, is subject to the requirements of Section 3.
With respect to recipients of Housing and/or Community Development funding, all contractors or subcontractors that receive covered contracts in excess of $100,000 for housing construction, rehabilitation, or other public construction are required to comply with the requirements of Section 3.
If the contractor/subcontractor has the need to hire new persons to complete the Section 3 covered contract or needs to subcontract portions of the work to another business, they are required to direct their newly created employment and/or subcontracting opportunities to Section 3 residents and business concerns. The same numerical goals apply to contractors and subcontractors (i.e., 30 percent of new hires, 10 percent of construction contracts, and 3 percent of non-construction contracts). In addition, the contractor/subcontractor must notify the recipient agency about their efforts to comply with Section 3 and submit any required documentation.
No. Section 3 does not apply to material only contracts or those that do not require any labor. For example, a contract for office or janitorial supplies would not be covered by Section 3. In this example, Section 3 would be encouraged but not required. However, a contract to replace windows that includes the removal of existing windows and the installation of new windows would be covered.
Yes, but only for PIH funded programs administered by Public Housing Authorities.
Yes, reduction and abatement of lead-based paint hazards does constitute housing rehabilitation and is covered by Section 3.
Yes. Recipients of Section 3 covered assistance should make efforts to award a minimum of ten percent of the total dollar amount of all demolition contracts to Section 3 businesses.
Yes, the term “Section 3 covered contract” includes professional service contracts provided that the work to be performed is generated by the expenditure of Section 3 covered Public and Indian housing assistance, or for work arising in connection with projects involving housing rehabilitation, housing construction, or other public construction.
26. Does Section 3 apply to new hiring by a CDBG-Entitlement recipient?
Yes. If the recipient intends to use its HUD allocation to hire additional staff person(s) to perform work related to housing construction, rehabilitation, or other public construction, then the position(s) is covered by Section 3. However, if the local municipality uses a civil servant applicant process to hire new employees, compliance with the requirements of Section 3 may not be feasible.
Yes. Section 3 applies to all Public and Indian Housing capital, operating or development funds; therefore, new hiring done by the PHA (regardless of the position) is covered by Section 3.
The threshold applies to the total amount of HUD assistance received. Example: the City of Mountain View, receives $210,000 through the State CDBG program. The funds will be used as follows:
- Housing rehabilitation- $180,000;
- micro-enterprise revolving loan fund- $20,000; and
- Fair housing counseling- $10,000.
City of Mountain View is subject to Section 3 requirements because they received over $200,000 in housing and community development funds. However, only the funds expended for Section 3 covered activities must comply with the requirements of Section 3. Therefore, the expenditure of the $180,000 is covered by Section 3. The remaining $30,000 that was used for fair housing counseling and a revolving loan fund is not covered by Section 3.
No. Contracts for Section 3 covered projects are not cumulative. The requirements of Section 3 apply to each individual contract that meets the thresholds. For example, if a recipient agency awards 3 housing rehabilitation contracts (at $36,000; $50,000; and $20,000 for a cumulative total of $106,000) to one contractor for three different projects within a twelve month period, the contractor is not required to comply with the requirements of Section 3 because none of his contracts met the $100,000 threshold. Accordingly, the responsibility for meeting the requirements of Section 3 would remain with the recipient agency that awarded the contracts.