Ella Rochelle said she feels penalized because her sons are in college and have jobs, and the higher household income means she'll have to pay more rent.
Whether it's fair or not, officials with the Houston Housing Authority said they have to follow the law.
But doing so means hardship for one family.
"What I'm really concerned is my rent -- $1,300. I cannot afford that," Rochelle said.
Right now, Rochelle pays $639 a month to live in public housing. That rent is about to double because of income earned by her sons, who are in college, she said.
"Because they're trying to go to school and pay for their school, that's what they're trying to do," Rochelle said.
Rochelle and her four sons live at Allen Parkway Village. Three sons are in college and one is still in middle school. APV is operated by the Houston Housing Authority. HHA says tenants agree by law to pay 30 percent of their income towards rent.
A prepared statement by HHA went on to say that the housing authority works very hard to help residents reach their potential, but ultimately it is up to each family to manage their budget.
That's not helpful to Rochelle, who says she wants her sons to keep working and going to college, leaving her with tough decisions to make.
"I normally have to pawn stuff," she said.
According to HHA, income earned by full-time students is excluded from rent calculations. But income from part-time students is included.
Rochelle has one son that goes to school and works part-time.
No matter what happens, with three sons in college, she is proud of what they've been able to accomplish
"Because I want to see them get a good education so they can get out. You know, and have their own life," she said.
Rochelle's new lease with the higher rent would start next week. One solution is to try to find another place for her son with the part-time job to live, but Rochelle doesn't want to split up her family.