While apartment hunting you may have come across an apartment community called “Affordable Apartments”, Subsidized, or Income Based Apartments. While they look like a normal apartment community, their rent will usually be less expensive than the average rent for a similar apartment in another community. But what are affordable apartments? What makes them affordable? And how do you rent one?
Public Vs. Private
Affordable housing is typically part of a government-sponsored program, intended to help residents afford rent they might not otherwise be able to. There are many different types of affordable rental housing and what will be available depends on your area. The government offers various programs to help low-income or disadvantaged residents find and afford housing, with the biggest difference between them being Public vs Private.
Public Housing: Is essentially owned by the government, whether that is local or central. It could be owned or managed by a government agency, the state, a non-profit organization, or by a combination.
Private Housing: Is owned by a private individual or company. These companies receive government funding or tax benefits to offer affordable apartments in their area.
Additionally, housing voucher programs can help residents pay for the housing of their choice. To learn more about Housing Vouchers or Public Housing programs, visit https://www.usa.gov/finding-home.
Because affordable apartments are designed to help residents who can’t afford an apartment at the normal market rate, they will have an Income Threshold that potential residents must not exceed, in order to qualify. This is where the terms “Income-Based”, “Income Restrictions”, and “Low-Income” come from.
This protects the apartments from being taken advantage of by a high-income earner, just to save a little on their monthly rent. Essentially, if you can afford to rent somewhere else, you probably won’t qualify for “affordable housing”.
This income threshold varies from city to city, and is usually set on or under the Median Income. Like it sounds, the Median Income takes the income from everyone in a certain area and finds the median of what they make. To qualify for a “Low Income” requirement, a resident will typically need to earn below that Median. This amount will differ from city to city and can depend on what is deemed the threshold. Some communities have very strict low-income thresholds, while other communities will cater more towards the average income and their income requirements will not be as low.
Income requirements are usually set at different amounts depending on how many residents over 18 are living in the apartment. If you apply for the apartment based on one income, and later have another earning adult move in without informing your landlord, you could not only be breaking your lease, but also committing fraud.
Income may not be the only qualification some of these affordable communities will have. Some housing may cater specifically to families, seniors, or the disabled. Private housing communities can also still dictate their own requirements, such as a credit check or employment verification. Just because a resident has a low income, does not mean they will automatically qualify.
It’s important to discuss requirements with the management of the community you are interested in and ensure you qualify before you apply. This can help you to avoid spending money on an application fee if you don’t qualify in the first place.
What if an apartment is just cheap and isn’t part of any affordable housing program? There are rare cases of apartments being rented at much lower than the market rate. But if you see an apartment being offered at a suspiciously low rent, it’s important to ask yourself (and the landlord) why? Are they having difficulty renting the apartment out because something is wrong with it? Are they attempting to illegally rent the apartment or scam you out of a security deposit? If it looks too good to be true, it probably is! Suspiciously low rent is usually the first sign of a rental scam. You can learn more about the potential signs of an rental scam with our recent blog post!
If you are looking for affordable apartments in Harrisonburg, Virginia, look no further than Colonnade Apartments! Colonnade can help you afford a spacious apartment with community amenities, right in the heart of downtown Harrisonburg.