Workforce housing, also known as middle-income housing, is comprised of apartments with average-income rents that hover modestly above the rents required to qualify for low-income subsidies. Some describe it as multi-family housing that’s affordable – compared to traditional “affordable housing” in which rents are kept low thanks to a significant level of public subsidy.
Individuals and families who need workforce housing generally earn between 60 and 120 percent of the Area Media Income (AMI) – they are well employed, usually in urban metropolitan areas but cannot afford the average rent in the cities where they work.
For example, the 2016 AMI for a single individual in Greater Boston is $68,700. For a family of four, it’s $98,100.
A family of four that earns 80% of AMI ($78,840) can technically afford a monthly rent of about $1,900, but they cannot afford the $2,800/month average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in and around Boston.
With the gap between average rents and median incomes continuing to widen in every major metropolitan market in the United States, there is a serious shortage of apartments at rents within the financial grasp of the middle-income wage earners being squeezed out of the market.