Make less than $54,250? You may qualify for low-income housing

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If you make less than $54,250 per year in Los Angeles County, you may qualify for low-income housing.

According to estimates released last month by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the median family income in LA County is now $69,300. That’s up a bit from last year, when the typical family brought in $64,300.

The new estimate means that affordable housing income limits in LA County have shifted as well, since they are calculated as a percentage of the median income.

Income limits in Los Angeles are especially important as new affordable housing incentives kick in and elected officials at the local and state levels consider new ways to spur development of affordable housing.

These homes are offered at low rates to renters who might otherwise be unable to find housing at a price they can afford. Whether they are able to move in depends on their income and family size.

For instance, if a unit in a housing complex is set aside for low-income renters, a single person would have to make under $54,250 in order to live there. A family of eight, on the other hand, could earn up to $102,300.

But that’s not the only income group classified by HUD. The agency also employs separate groupings for very low- and extremely low-income residents. Whether you fall into one of those categories depends quite a bit on where you live.

For instance, in Orange County, the median income is now $92,700, and a single person earning under $38,300 would fall into the very low-income group. In Riverside and San Bernardino counties (grouped together in HUD’s calculations), the median income is $65,800, and a single person making the same amount would not fall into the very low- or even the low-income group.


U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

In Los Angeles County, the very low-income category applies to those earning between $33,950 (for an individual) and $64,000 (for a family of eight). Extremely-low income describes those making between $20,350 (individual) and $42,380 (family of eight).

These distinctions matter, since developers often plan affordable units based on tax breaks and incentives that become more or less generous depending on which income group they are designed for.

Development incentives created through Measure JJJ allow developers of projects near transit stops to build taller than would be otherwise allowed, and to include less parking, as long as a certain percentage of units in the building are affordable. The percentage goes up and down depending on the income level of future residents. The lower the income level, the fewer units need to be set aside to make the project eligible for incentives.

A recent state analysis found that Los Angeles isn’t building nearly enough housing for any of these income groups, but more funding for affordable development projects may be on the way, thanks to new fees charged to developers that can then be used to finance construction of housing for residents with lower incomes.

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