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One way to realize low-income housing units is to simply set rents at affordable rates. The
nationally accepted standard of housing affordability, explains the U.S. Census Bureau, posits
that housing -- rent and utilities -- is affordable when a family does not spend more than 30
percent of its income on it. Generally, it is difficult to merely set rents at affordable levels
without providing private developers with significant incentives. The federal government,
however, absorbs the loss inherent in providing low-rent housing in several ways. According
to HUD's public housing program website, more than 3,300 housing authorities across the
U.S. own and operate public housing units that house approximately 1.2 million families. In
most cases, public housing residents pay rent equal to no more than 30 percent of their
income.
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HUD's long-standing Section 8 initiative, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher
program, provides eligible low-income renters the opportunity to obtain private market rental
housing. Landlords who wish to include some or all of their units in the Section 8 program
can apply with HUD to do so. If their rentals meet HUD's quality standards, they have the
option to rent to Section 8 tenants. When a Section 8 tenant and private market landlord
reach an agreement, the tenant pays the landlord the portion of the rent that equals between
30 and 40 percent of their household income, according to HUD's Housing Choice Voucher
fact sheet. HUD pays the remainder directly to the landlord.
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Some cities, particularly those with relatively high rental prices, use inclusionary housing as a
technique to realize low-cost housing units. San Francisco, for example, operates the Below
Market Rate program. The city's planning code requires private, for-profit developers to make
15 percent of the units in developments consisting of five or more units affordable for low- to
moderate-income families. The San Francisco Mayor's Office of Housing notes that if a
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Between the years 2000 and 2010, the fair market rent for a two-bedroom unit in the U.S.
increased by about 45 percent, according to data analyzed by the National Low Income
Housing Coalition. To afford a two-bedroom at the 2010 market rate of $959, a federal
minimum wage worker would have to labor 102 hours per week. Governments use several
techniques to bring low-income housing to market for the nation's neediest households.
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Low Cost Housing Ideas
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Hud Housing
Section 8 Housing
Government Housing Grants
Low Income Housing
Housing Assistance
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builder decides to construct the affordable housing off site, he must increase the percentage to
20. New York City uses a similar, yet slightly more complicated scheme. The New York City
Department of City Planning points out that developers can receive more square footage for
market-rate units than the planning code allows, if they agree to devote more square footage
to below-market-rate housing in certain city districts.
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While rent control does not provide low-cost housing across the board, it warrants a mention.
Several expensive rental markets, including San Francisco, use rent control, which essentially
sets limits on the rents that can be charged for at least a segment of a city's housing stock.
Most rent-control ordinances, including in San Francisco, allow landlords to charge new
tenants whatever they wish for a rental; however, annual rent increases are typically capped
at a certain level. The San Francisco Rent Board reports that landlords can only raise rent by
0.1 percent between March 1, 2010 and February 28, 2011. Long-time tenants, however,
whose units have been rent-controlled for years or even decades, may enjoy rents that qualify
or would come close to qualifying as low-cost housing.
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Hud Housing
Section 8 Housing
Government Housing Grants
Low Income Housing
Housing Assistance
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HUD: Housing Choice Vouchers Fact Sheet
HUD: HUD's Public Housing Program
Definition of Low-Cost
Housing
How to Build a Low-Cost
House Alternative
Building a Low Cost Home
Low-Cost-Housing
Construction Techniques
Information for Building
Low-Cost Housing
Low Cost Housing Grants
Low-Cost Decorating Ideas
How to Calculate Section 8 Rent
How to Apply for Low Income
Apartments
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Cheapest Way to Build a House How to Build a Low Cost Easy
House
Low Cost Housing Ideas
San Francisco Mayor's Office of Housing: Below Market Rate Program
New York City Department of City Planning: Residential Districts: Inclusionary Housing
National Low Income Housing Coalition: Out of Reach, 2010, U.S. Summary Statistics
U.S. Census Bureau: Why the 30 Percent of Income Standard for Housing Affordability
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San Francisco Rent Board: This Year's Annual Allowable Increase
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How to Get Into a Section 8
Apartment in Illinois
What Does Stipend Mean for
Section 8 Housing?
Information on Low Income
Housing
How to Get Rental Assistance in
Pennsylvania
Where to Apply for Section 8 &
HUD Housing
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Low-Cost-Housing Construction Techniques
Low-Cost-Housing Construction Techniques. Low-cost housing refers to houses that are
inexpensive to build. This doesn't mean that the houses will be inexpensive...
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