Most people call housing “affordable” when they don’t have to choose between paying rent and buying groceries, when they don’t have to live in crowded or unhealthy conditions, and when they can afford a home that provides a sense of security and community.

Policymakers and advocates call housing “affordable” when a household pays no more than 30% of its total income for housing costs (rent or mortgage payment, insurance, taxes, and utilities). In Placer County, low- and moderate-income people can have a very difficult time find housing that passes this test. That’s why it’s important for local governments to work closely with developers, non-profit developers and others to create and preserve housing for people at these income levels.

Affordable rental housing is typically targeted toward lower income households — those earning less than 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) — while affordable owner-occupied housing is targeted toward low- or moderate-income households (those earning less than 120% of AMI). Based on federal guidelines for 2012, a Placer County family of three earning $54,850 or less would be defined as low income. Monthly housing expenses of $1,371 or less would be considered affordable for that household.

Affordable housing refers to homes that are stable, sufficient, safe and priced within the means of moderate to low-income families. While the term conjures up a range of reactions, the reality is that affordable housing is a necessity for ensuring stable families and strong communities in Placer County.

For homeowners and renters at various income levels, wages remain the same while their spending on housing costs have increased. In Placer County the “American Dream” of a decent home in a good neighborhood has slipped out of reach for more working families each year.

table of household size by income level

“Affordable housing” takes many different forms, and this website uses the term to encompass all housing developed to be affordable to income-qualifying households earning less than 120 percent of the AMI. A subset of affordable housing, “workforce housing,” simply refers to housing that is affordable to a community’s essential workers.

However, in practice, workforce housing often is used to describe housing that is affordable at the upper end of this scale (i.e. 60 to 120 percent of AMI). Because typical market-rate rental housing is affordable at this level in many communities, workforce housing is more likely to include homeownership programs.

table of household size by income level

Even If You Don’t Need Affordable Housing Yourself, The Problem Can Still Affect You Directly

  • If your teacher can’t live in the area, he/she can’t teach your children.
  • If your father’s nurse can’t find an affordable apartment, he/she can’t care for your dad.
  • If your firefighter has to live outside of the county because he/she can’t afford this area, he/she can’t get here to fight your fire.
  • If people have to travel an hour to work, they don’t have time to be involved in their communities.
  • Our communities can’t operate without the people who do these jobs.
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