To live in a home funded by a federal housing subsidy, an applicant must qualify by income. The yardstick the government uses to measure income eligibility for housing assistance is the median income for the area, known as the area median income or AMI. For the largest federal rental assistance programs- specifically, Housing Choice Vouchers, public housing, and project- based Section 8- federal law limits eligibility to households with incomes at or below 80 percent of AMI. Other federal rental assistance programs are limited to families with incomes at or below 60 percent of AMI (Low- Income Housing Tax Credit) or 50 percent of AMI (supportive housing for the elderly and disabled). Direct federal subsidies for homeownership are generally limited to families with incomes at or below 80 percent of the area median income, though reduced- cost mortgage programs reach families with somewhat higher incomes.
Affordable Housing 101