What does ‘affordable’ housing really mean?
May 30, 2018
There is some confusion concerning the difference between affordable housing, subsidized housing, section 8 housing, multi-family housing, and HUD housing.
Affordable housing refers to housing that costs no more than 30 percent of the gross family income of the owners or occupants. It's what used to be referred as a "starter home," for people with new families, new careers, or for those who are saving for other financial expenditures.
Subsidized housing refers to housing that is, in part, paid for by government funding, which can fall under many different programs.
Section 8 housing refers to a program in which the government pays for a portion of rent for low-income households. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines it as a program which: "Provides rental assistance to low-income families who are unable to afford market rents. Assistance may be in the form of vouchers or certificates."
"HUD housing" refers to a public housing program by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which was created to provide quality and safe rental housing for low-income families, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
Rent is determined by either:
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30 percent of the monthly adjusted income (allowances can include $480 for each dependent and $400 for an elderly family member or a person with a disability)
10 percent of the monthly income
welfare rent or
a $25 minimum rent or higher amount set by a housing authority.
The determined rent amount is whichever amount is highest of the above categories.
Public housing is specifically owned and managed by the government.
Co-operative housing is a sub-category of subsidized housing. It can entail housing that may offer some subsidized units, but the main source of income is not subsidization. This can include housing that is non-profit, in which the rents or charges are put back into the maintenance of the building instead of profiting the landlord. The co-op is run by a board of directors.
Multi-family housing refers to housing such as apartments, condos, or townhomes, in which multiple families live on one property.
The recent approval of master plan amendments to multi-family residential by county commissioners has caused it to become a campaign issue in the upcoming primary election.
In most of those issues multi-family housing was approved to replace commercial zoning.