What is Affordable Housing?

In the United States, the term affordable housing is used to describe housing for which the total costs of rent – or a mortgage – plus utilities is at or below, 30% of the household’s gross income.

According to Arlington County, 2 out of every 5 rental households are spending more than 30% of their income on housing… that’s nearly 20,000 Arlington renters who are paying more for rent than is recommended by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. These households are considered cost burdened, and may have difficulty paying for and affording other necessities such as transportation, food, clothing, and medical care.

So, many renter households have trouble finding affordable apartments in Arlington because it’s such a desirable place to live. And, this high demand increases rent prices – the Area Median Income (AMI) in Arlington is $109,200 for a family of four.

In Arlington County, there are two types of affordable apartment units:


apah logo - HFCommitted Affordable Units (CAFs)

These units are guaranteed by agreement with the federal, state, or County Government, or through mechanisms such as tax-exempt financing, to remain affordable to low and moderate income households for a specified period of time; generally 30 to 60 years. Rents in most cases are affordable to households earning 60% or less of the Area Median Income, although some CAFs have rents affordable to households earning up to 80% of median.


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Market-rate Affordable Units (MARKs)

These units are owned by the private market and tend to have higher monthly rents. Affordability fluctuates with factors impacting housing market conditions, including employment trends, economic stability and basic supply and demand. Rent prices are at 50-60% and 60-80% of Area Median Income.