Asset & Income Requirements for Subsidized Housing

Subsidized housing programs provide low to moderate-income families with safe, affordable housing. Eligible individuals and families can qualify for apartment or residential housing, depending on individual need and preference. Housing programs are administered through federal and state government agencies, which set the asset and income eligibility requirements for housing assistance.

Eligibility Guidelines for Subsidized Housing

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, administers subsidized housing programs through state and local governments. State governments set the eligibility guidelines within their regions, so income and asset requirements can vary from state to state. Income and asset guidelines set the maximum amounts a person or family can have in order to be eligible for assistance.

Once a family qualifies for assistance, rent reduction amounts are based on the family's assets and income. In terms of family size, basic requirements allow for any number of people within a household, from single-person households to multiple family members or cohabitants.

Read More​: Section 8 Housing Policies

Median Income Level Requirements

Subsidized housing programs work with different types of housing, some of which include project-based public housing, apartments and residential homes. Some programs use the annual median income as a guideline when determining an applicant’s eligibility. An annual median income is based on average income levels within a particular area or region.

Income level requirements for eligibility typically set a cutoff limit based on a percentage of an area’s annual median income. If the annual median income for an area is $50,000 and a particular program has a 50 percent cutoff mark, eligible applicants will earn less than $25,000 a year.

Gross vs. Net Income Requirements

Income requirements for subsidized housing programs follow different guidelines in terms of how a particular program views a person or family’s earned income amounts. Federal programs, such as public subsidized housing projects, use a family’s gross yearly income to determine eligibility. Guidelines for gross yearly income amounts use before-tax earnings and exclude other income sources, such as assistance benefits for children or monies earned through HUD-sponsored training programs.

State programs for subsidized housing, such as voucher and multifamily programs, use a family’s net yearly income to determine eligibility. Guidelines for net yearly income amounts use after-tax earnings and exclude monies earned by full-time students living in the home, as well as worker compensation benefits.

Read More​: What is Section 8 Housing?

Asset Guidelines for Subsidized Housing

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines an asset as a type of possession that holds value, such as a car or money in a bank account. Subsidized housing programs – whether state or federally funded -- place no limits on the amount of assets a person or family can have in terms of program eligibility requirements. Assets only become an issue when they earn income.

In other words, rental reduction amounts are only affected by assets that earn income, such as interest-earning checking accounts or life insurance policies that build cash value. In effect, income-earning assets are treated as earned income, which places an applicant at a higher income level. When this happens, rent reduction amounts are smaller, meaning families end up paying a larger percentage of their monthly rental payments.