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Understanding Affordable

The standard definition of affordable housing is when housing expenses are no more than 30% of a family’s gross income. Ideally, very one of us is able to live in affordable housing.

The term affordable housing is also used to refer to income-restricted properties. In expensive regions like ours rents are not affordable to the average working family and these types of properties are absolutely essential for a thriving economy. Projects are typically built and managed by nonprofit and for-profit developers with money from conventional loans, private investment, bonds and/or tax credits.  Many of these developments also have rental subsidies attached to them in order to make the units more affordable to the very low and extremely low income families.

Is Income-Restricted Affordable Housing The Same As Public Housing Or Government Subsidized Housing? No. Public housing refers to affordable apartments for low-income families, the elderly and persons with disabilities funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) but owned and managed by local Housing Authorities. This type of affordable housing provides a limited number of rental apartments to households in the HUD program and money for this program is provided by the federal government.

What is Area Median Income (AMI). Median income is the amount that divides the income distribution into two equal groups with half having income above that amount, and half having income below that amount. AMI is calculated each year by HUD as well as the California Department of Housing and Community Development for designated programs and is used to determine applicant eligibility (based on the level of household income) and to calculate rents for affordable housing programs. The graph above illustrates how AMI levels distinguish what is considered affordable and who qualifies for income-restricted, affordable rentals.

Income Limits for the Monterey Bay Region

2019 Income Limits – Monterey County
% Median Income 1 Person Affordable Rent 2 person Affordable Rent 4 person Affordable Rent
Extremely Low Income 0-30% $18,900 $389 $21,600 $445 $26,950 $556
Very Low Income 31-50% $31,450 $648 $35,950 $741 $44,900 $926
Low Income 51-80% $50,300 $778 $57,500 $890 $71,850 $1,112
Median Income 100% $51,850 $1,296 $59,300 $1,483 $74,100 $1,853
Moderate Income 81-120% $62,250 $1,426 $71,100 $1,631 $88,900 $2,038
2019 Income Limits – Santa Cruz County
% Median Income 1 Person Affordable Rent 2 person Affordable Rent 4 person Affordable Rent
Extremely Low Income 0-30% $25,800 $515 $29,450 $588 $36,800 $735
Very Low Income 31-50% $42,950 $858 $49,100 $980 $61,350 $1,225
Low Income 51-80% $68,900 $1,029 $78,750 $1,176 $98,400 $1,470
Median Income 100% $68,600 $1,715 $78,400 $1,960 $98,000 $2,450
Moderate Income 81-120% $82,300 $1,887 $94,100 $2,156 $117,600 $2,695
2019 Income Limits – San Benito County
% Median Income 1 Person Affordable Rent 2 person Affordable Rent 4 person Affordable Rent
Extremely Low Income 0-30% $21,450 $444 $24,500 $507 $30,600 $634
Very Low Income 31-50% $35,700 $739 $40,800 $845 $51,000 $1,056
Low Income 51-80% $57,150 $887 $65,300 $1,014 $81,600 $1,268
Median Income 100% $59,150 $1,479 $67,600 $1,690 $84,500 $2,113
Moderate Income 81-120% $71,000 $1,627 $81,100 $1,859 $101,400 $2,324

Industry Wages and Affordable Rent

Source: State of California Employment Development Department - Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) Data
Enhanced Bonus Density White Paper

The intent of this white paper, a collaboration between MBEP and Member Envision Housing, is to encourage the implementation of Enhanced Bonus Density ordinances in the Monterey Bay region to improve housing affordability and supply. Such ordinances can increase total housing production and significantly alter what is produced to include more lower-income affordable housing, rental housing, smaller housing units, and transit-oriented housing.

Housing Policy Change White Paper

MBEP works with water resource policy expert, Dr. Abby Ostovar, to study the housing and water situation on the Monterey Peninsula. The goal of this ‘blue’ paper (i.e. white paper on water) is to provide an analysis of the data collected and identify key recommendations to help strengthen the Peninsula’s ability to achieve its housing production goals, particularly with respect to housing affordability for lower-income households and the broader workforce. 

Housing Advocacy

Affordable housing is too often misunderstood. Many residents in our region work extremely hard to provide the services we rely on every day, yet still do not make enough money to afford the average rent. As a community, we have a responsibility to speak up and support affordable housing.

~ Matt Huerta, MBEP Housing Program Manager, Monterey Bay Economic Partnership

What is Housing Advocacy?

Housing advocacy is a way to make your voice heard and influence the outcome of a project or policy at the local, state or federal level. There are several ways you can be a housing advocate. Housing advocacy activities include:

  • Promoting an issue among your social networks
  • Calling or writing to your elected officials
  • Writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper
  • Writing to the City Council, Planning Commission or Board of Supervisors
  • Attending City Council, Planning Commission or Board of Supervisors meetings
  • Meeting with your elected officials or their staff

Why Housing Advocacy?

  • To promote sound housing policy
  • To voice your approval of housing development
  • To support the natural growth of our community

Who Engages in Housing Advocacy Activities?

Anyone can engage in housing advocacy and MBEP has provided some resources below to make it easy for you to get started.Also, if you have a specific housing policy or project you would like MBEP to consider supporting please complete one of the following endorsement forms: Policy Endorsement Request or Project Endorsement Request.

Helpful Resources for Advocacy Communication:

Where Can I go to Learn More About Advocacy?

Policy & Project Endorsement Request

If you have a specific housing policy or project you would like MBEP to consider supporting, please complete one of the following endorsement forms: Policy Endorsement Request or Project Endorsement Request

Understanding Regional Housing Needs

In the Monterey Bay region, AMBAG (Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments) provides a Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) to project the number of homes needed in our region during a specified time period. The 2014-2023 RHNA goals are outlined here.