Affordable Housing 101

What is "Affordable Housing"?

  • "Affordable housing" is housing that is affordable to households with low incomes, meaning that these households pay no more than 30% of their income for housing costs like rent, mortgage, and utilities.
  • "Low-income" is based on the Area Median Income ("AMI") of the city or county. Typically, households are considered low-income if they earn no more than 80% of AMI
    • Households earning under 50% of AMI are considered very low-income
    • Households earning under 30% of AMI are considered extremely low-income
  • In Orange County, the AMI in 2020 was $90,900.
    • 80% of AMI = $50,900 for one person and $72,700 for a family of four
    • 50% of AMI = $31,850 for one person and $45,450 for a family of four
    • 30% of AMI = $19,100 for one person and $27,250 for a family of four

Affordable Housing Statistics

In 2020, an Orange County renter earning the mean wage ($14.16) would need to work 115 hours per week to afford the Fair Market Rent for a standard two-bedroom apartment ($1,088).


Orange County
North Carolina (statewide)
Fair Market Rent ("FMR") 
for a 2-bedroom apartment
$1,088
$919
Income Needed to afford a 2-bedroom apartment at FMR
$43, 514
($20.92 per hour)
$36,754 
($17.67 per hour)
Mean Wage earned by renters
$14.16 per hour
$15.92 per hour

Source: National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2020, https://reports.nlihc.org/oor/north-carolina

Impacts of Affordable Housing

The briefs below from the N.C. Housing Finance Agency use the latest research to show how housing affordability benefits individuals and communities beyond just providing shelter:

Funding for Affordable Housing 


Funding SourceAdministered By
Federal SourcesLow Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)N.C. Housing Finance Agency
HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME)Orange County (HOME Consortium)
Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)Town of Chapel Hill
Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) ProgramOrange County
Continuum of Care (CoC) Orange County (Partnership to End Homelessness)
State SourcesN.C. Housing Trust FundN.C. Housing Finance Agency
Local SourcesEmergency Housing Assistance (EHA) FundOrange County
Outside Agency/Human Services FundingOrange County, Town of Carrboro, Town of Chapel Hill
Orange County Affordable Housing BondOrange County
Carrboro Affordable Housing FundTown of Carrboro
Chapel Hill Affordable Housing Development ReserveTown of Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill Affordable Housing FundTown of Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill Affordable Housing BondTown of Chapel Hill