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What is Affordable Housing?

Affordable housing is one of the greatest needs in our community, yet it is extremely complex and nuanced.

What is Affordable Housing? While definitions vary, a commonly accepted definition is situations where households pay 30% or less of their income towards housing. Households that spend more than 30% of their income towards housing are considered “Housing Cost Burdened”. Those that pay more than 50% of their income are considered “Severely Housing Cost Burdened”.

What is Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (NOAH)? NOAH refers to housing units that exist within a community which meet affordability targets without requiring subsidy. These are typically older residential units in established neighborhoods and are at the highest risk of gentrification.

What is Area Median Income (AMI)? AMI is a localized measurement of household income determined by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) data. This data is the basis of many decisions in the affordable housing industry.

  • 100% AMI represents the middle income for that area.
  • Many affordable housing projects have AMI targets which depend on funding sources.
  • Extremely Low Income : 0% to 30% of AMI

    Very Low Income : 30% to 50% of AMI 

    Lower Income : 50% to 80% of AMI 

    Moderate Income : 80% to 120% of AMI (aka Workforce Housing)

What is Public Housing? Public housing is typically defined as affordable housing units which are developed/purchased, owned, managed, and/or maintained by a Housing Authority. Housing Authorities are local agencies which administer HUD programs, including housing voucher programs. Not every community has a Housing Authority, and they all don’t function exactly the same way.

What is Missing Middle Housing? A concept developed by design firm Opticos, Missing Middle Housing refers to a variety of multi-unit housing types which can help create walkable, human-scale neighborhoods while increasing housing options for a variety of households. Examples are duplexes, townhomes, cottage courts, and live-work units.

What are Housing Choice Vouchers? Formerly known as “Section 8 Vouchers”, this program compensates landlords the full cost of rent while the renting household pays a maximum of 30% of their income.

  • Vouchers can be tied to specific housing units or, more commonly, provided to an individual/household. There is a much greater need than there are vouchers available so they can be challenging to obtain.
  • There are other housing voucher programs that target specific demographics, such as Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers for veterans – administered jointly between the VA and HUD.

What is a Housing Finance Agency (HFA)? HFAs are state agencies that administer a range of affordable housing and community development programs based on a variety of federal and state funding sources, such as the LIHTC.

What is the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)? LIHTC is a competitive program that awards federal tax credits to qualified affordable housing projects. The tax credits are subsequently sold to investors through a syndicator and put towards the project costs.

What is Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)? PSH projects combine subsidized affordable housing with voluntary support services such as healthcare, counseling, and workforce development. PSH units are typically designated for individuals or households with specific disabilities or circumstances such as chronic homelessness.

What is a Mixed-Income Development? Mixed-income developments provide housing units at various rental rates to target households with different income levels, typically with rental subsidies matching the need based on household income.

What is a Mixed-Use Development? Mixed-use developments are projects which include at least two separate uses, such as housing, office, retail, institutional, education, and/or healthcare. Typical mixed-use projects include residential and retail uses, which are meant to compliment one another.

What is the New Market Tax Credit (NMTC)? NMTC is a federal program that awards tax credits through Community Development Entities (CDEs) to qualified projects within economically distressed census tracts. NMTC projects must include commercial (economic) development, but may also include affordable housing units.

Who is Haven? Haven is an award-winning social enterprise that exists to increase the quantity and quality of housing options for under-served communities.

What is Design-Build? Design-build is a project delivery method in which architecture and construction services are provided in a single contract by a single firm, increasing overall project efficiency.

What is Stakeholder Engagement? Stakeholder engagement is a process which identifies the individuals and organizations affected by a project and facilitates robust participation in order to increase positive outcomes and lower project risk.

What is Development Consulting? Development consulting is an advisory service to provide an owner/developer with professional, objective advice on various aspects of the development process such as project proformas, schedules, construction budgets, and so on.

What is an Owner’s Representation? An owner’s representative takes on holistic responsibility for a project on behalf of an owner/developer and advocates for their interests and goals by assembling and directing the entire project team.

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What is Design-Build?

What is Design-Build?

A single contract with the project owner to provide custom design and construction services.