What is Affordable Housing?

In the United States, “affordable housing” means that the cost of housing–rent or a mortgage–plus utility payments, total 30% or less of a household’s gross income. Households required to pay more are considered cost-burdened and may have difficulty paying for and affording other necessities such as transportation, food, clothing, and medical care.

In the DC area, 58% of renters are cost-burdened, which is not surprising when work hours required to afford any apartment size exceeds 70 hours per week with a minimum wage (NLIHC, 2020). Many renting households have trouble finding affordable apartments in the DC area. Naturally occurring affordable housing exists in insufficient numbers in an area with incredibly high demand.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does affordable housing mean in Arlington?
According to federal guidelines, housing costs should ideally take no more than 30% of a family’s income.  However, in Arlington, high rents mean that families earning less than the area median income (AMI) often spend 40%, 50%, or more of their pay on housing.  Rental housing that costs more than 30% of a family’s income is not considered affordable.

Committed affordable rental housing, like APAH’s properties, is dedicated to staying affordable for families making 60% or less of the AMI (currently $68,340 for a family of four) even as the fair-market prices for apartments increase.

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How much does affordable housing cost?
The exact cost of rent varies, based on the area median income, the property, and the apartment size.  The general ranges of APAH’s committed affordable rent rates are:

  • 1-bedroom: $955-$1400
  • 2-bedroom: $1200-$1500
  • 3-bedroom: $1400-$1750

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Do I qualify for affordable housing?
Eligibility for housing in APAH apartments varies based both on the property and on individual/family circumstances.  In the majority of APAH apartments, the approximate qualifying incomes are from $35,000-$68,000 for a family of four.  For specific questions about your eligibility for affordable housing in APAH’s communities, please contact S.L. Nusbaum Realty Co. at 703 528-8151.

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Where are APAH’s apartments located?
APAH has properties located throughout Arlington County. Learn about our current properties.

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How do I apply for affordable housing? Are there waiting lists?
Yes, there are usually waiting lists for apartments in most APAH properties. To apply for housing in one of our buildings, please contact S.L. Nusbaum Realty Co. at 703-528-8151.

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In Arlington County, there are two types of affordable apartment units:


apah logo - HFCommitted Affordable Units (CAFs)

These units are guaranteed by agreement with the federal, state, or County Government, or through mechanisms such as tax-exempt financing, to remain affordable to low and moderate income households for a specified period of time; generally 30 to 60 years. Rents in most cases are affordable to households earning 60% or less of the Area Median Income, although some CAFs have rents affordable to households earning up to 80% of median.


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Market-rate Affordable Units (MARKs)

These units are owned by the private market and tend to have higher monthly rents. Affordability fluctuates with factors impacting housing market conditions, including employment trends, economic stability and basic supply and demand. Rent prices are at 50-60% and 60-80% of Area Median Income.