What Is Affordable Housing?

“ The quality of life and livability of our communities have been significantly enhanced by cooperative partnerships with Burbank Housing and the cities and County of Sonoma. We have enjoyed a long and productive relationship that has resulted in the creation of a broad range of affordable housing opportunities in our communities. Burbank Housing's professional staff has been invaluable in helping to leverage limited housing funds and address affordable housing goals throughout the County.” Sharon Wright
Former Mayor, City of Santa Rosa

In its most general term affordable housing is housing that is available to people at a cost they can afford to pay. The goal of nonprofit housing development is to provide housing at a cost which low-income people can reasonably afford to pay. Since this type of housing cannot be produced by purely private efforts under current economic conditions, affordable housing production has become a joint effort of private, non-profit and governmental initiatives.

A precise definition of "afford to pay" is generally considered to be a cost which is not more than a particular percentage of gross income for all housing costs. To provide housing at this level for lower income people usually involves some form of housing subsidy which comes directly or indirectly from a governmental source. These sources usually set a level of affordability at 30% of gross income, although actual payment might be slightly higher for some households.

For example, if an apartment is to be affordable to a household of two persons earning 50% of the local median income level, and local median income is $30,000, then an affordable cost for rent and utilities would be $9000 per year, or $750 per month. If utilities cost $75 per month, then the affordable rent would be $675 per month. Similar calculations are used to determine the affordable monthly payment for home ownership opportunities.