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What is Affordable Housing?

Affordable housing means different things to different people. In San Diego, the median price of a home is more than $500,000, a product of supply and demand and location. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines "affordable" as housing that costs no more than 30 percent of a household's monthly income. That means rent and utilities in an apartment or the monthly mortgage payment and housing expenses for a homeowner should be less than 30 percent of a household's monthly income to be considered affordable.

Currently, the median income for a family of four in San Diego is $63,400. Utilizing HUD's definition, affordable housing for a low-income family (household earning up to 80 percent of San Diego area median income) (AMI), would be an apartment renting for about $1,500 per month or a home priced under $225,000. The cost would vary depending on family and unit size.

California Community Redevelopment Law requires that 15 percent of housing developed in a redevelopment project area must be affordable to low- to moderate-income households (persons earning up to 120 percent of area median income). Under this provision, affordable housing would be rental units costing up to $1,700 per month and for-sale housing priced up to about $240,000.

Public agencies define affordable housing as units with rent restrictions or price restrictions to maintain affordability as defined by HUD for the longest feasible time.

For qualifying income levels see the federal Housing and Urban Development Department's Area Median Income Chart.