Area Median Income and Rent Limits for Affordable Housing

Government agencies use these rent and income limits to determine eligibility for different housing programs.

Date Posted: August 31st, 2018 @ 3:44 PM
Last Updated: January 20th, 2021 @ 7:52 PM

Income Limits

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the State of California use various terms to describe income levels. These income limits are used to determine eligibility for Housing and Community Development programs. State and federal definitions vary. These income levels are based on the current year's Area Median Income (AMI).

For example, HUD considers Low Income to be 50% of the AMI. If in 2020-2021 a family of four makes $65,250 per year or below, they would qualify as Low Income and would be eligible for programs targeting Low Income families.

Rent Limits for Assisted Housing

Rental housing is considered affordable if gross housing costs (rent plus utilities) are 30% or less of a person's income. Rent limits for assisted housing apply to gross rents. The actual rents charged to tenants are calculated by subtracting utility allowances from the gross rents. For assisted housing projects, rents are set to be affordable to households at specific levels (Very Low Income, Low Income, etc.). Rents are adjusted higher for larger units and lower for smaller units according to formulas set by the Federal government.

Section 8 Utility & Appliance Allowances

The Oakland Housing Authority sets utility allowances for the Section 8 rental assistance program and for the City's affordable housing program. Rent limits for subsidized housing must be adjusted downward if the tenant pays utilities. Use these charts to determine the appropriate allowance, depending on which utilities are paid by tenants.