While apartment hunting you may have come across apartment communities using the terms “affordable apartments”, subsidized, low-income, or income-based apartments. There can be multiple definitions for these terms and it can be confusing when you are trying to find an apartment you can afford. There are many affordable apartments in Harrisonburg, including apartments that are part of government housing programs and others that are just considered “affordable” by reviewers. In this guide we discuss the differences between Affordable Apartments, Subsidized, Income Based Apartments, and Low-Income Apartments, what these terms mean, why these programs exists, and how to qualify for them.
- What are Affordable Apartments?
- What are Low-Income Apartments?
- What are Subsidized Apartments?
- What are Income-Based Apartments?
- Public Vs. Private
- Income-Based Requirements
- Other Qualifications
- Why Do Affordable Housing Programs Exists?
- What About Cheap Apartments?
‘Affordable Apartments’ are typically designed to be within the financial reach of individuals and families who might have limited budgets. The specific criteria for what makes an apartment “affordable” can vary based on factors like the local cost of living and the average income in the area. In some cases, there might be government programs or incentives that encourage the construction or availability of affordable apartments to address housing needs within a community.
Low income and affordable apartment can be used interchangeably to describe the same thing. Low-income apartments are housing units specifically designated for individuals and families with limited financial resources. These apartments are designed to be affordable for people who earn lower wages or have incomes that fall below a certain threshold. Low-income apartments can be part of various housing programs, including subsidized housing programs.
Subsidized apartments are housing units where the government provides financial assistance to help reduce the cost of rent for eligible individuals and families. These apartments are part of programs aimed at making housing more affordable for people with lower incomes. The government or a housing authority directly pays a portion of the rent to the landlord on behalf of the tenant. This helps ensure that people who might not be able to afford market-rate rents can still have access to safe and suitable housing. Subsidized apartments often have specific eligibility requirements based on income, household size, and other factors.
Income-based apartments are housing units where the amount of rent you pay is determined by your income level. In these types of apartments, your rent is calculated as a percentage of your earnings. If you have a lower income, you’ll pay a smaller portion of your income towards rent, making the housing more affordable for individuals and families with limited financial resources. These apartments are designed to help ensure that housing costs are proportional to a person’s ability to pay, making them a practical option for those with lower incomes. Just like subsidized apartments, income-based apartments usually have specific criteria for eligibility based on income and family size.
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 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 need to earn below that Median. This amount will vary depending on your area 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 typically set at different amounts depending on how many residents over 18 are living in the apartment. This means that any new residents also earning income should be added to your lease. 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.
Affordable housing programs can be frustrating to those who do not qualify for the income threshold. If they can pay the rent, why shouldn’t they be allowed to rent an apartment that is more affordable? In many cases, affordable apartments do not exist just to make the landlord money, but also provide for an evident need for affordable housing in a high-income city. These programs exist to address housing affordability and provide support to individuals and families who might otherwise struggle to secure safe and stable housing. Access to affordable housing provides stability within communities, allowing residents to stay close to family who can help support them, maintain the same job, have easier access to transportation, stay at the same schools, and provide stability to their families, instead of forcing residents to relocate outside of their established community.
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 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 blog post about this topic.
How We Can Help
If you are looking for affordable apartments in Harrisonburg, Virginia, look no further than the Colonnades at Rocktown Apartments! The Colonnades Apartments provide affordable housing options for low-to-moderate-income residents of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. Colonnade Apartments can help you afford a spacious apartment with community amenities, right in the heart of Harrisonburg, VA.