You may have came across an apartment community dubbed “Affordable Apartments,” “Subsidized Apartments,” or “Income Based Apartments” when apartment hunting. While they may appear to be a typical apartment complex, their rent is usually less than the average cost for a similar apartment in another neighborhood. 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 a variety of programs to assist low-income or disadvantaged residents in finding and affording housing, with the most significant distinction being between Public and Private initiatives.
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 as incentive 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, in order to save a few dollars 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 is may cater specifically families, seniors, or people with disabilities. Private housing communities can still set their own rules, such as requiring a credit check or proof of employment. Just because a resident has a low income, does not mean they will automatically qualify.
Before you apply, talk to the management of the community you’re interested in and make sure you meet the requirements. This can save you money on an application fee if you don’t meet the requirements 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. However, if an apartment is being offered at an unusually low rate, you should 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 something appears to be too good to be true, it most likely is! The first sign of a rental scam is usually a suspiciously cheap rent. 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 Blacksburg, Virginia, look no further than Fieldstone Apartments! Fieldstone can help you afford a spacious apartment with community amenities, right in the heart of Blacksburg.