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Low-income requirements for Los Angeles updated for 2017

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An individual earning $50,500 or less qualifies under HUD’s new threshold

View of affordable complex Michael Locke | Curbed LA Flickr Pool

The median income in Los Angeles County is now $64,300, according to a new estimate released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development last month.

That’s important because the agency’s income limits for rental assistance and affordable housing eligibility are based on area median income. Thus, a single person making 80 percent of that number ($50,500) would qualify for housing set aside for low-income tenants.

HUD also has definitions for very-low income (those making less than 50 percent of the median income) and extremely low-income residents (those making less than 30 percent).

The income limits adjust based on the number of people in one’s family, so, for instance, a single person making less than $31,550 would be considered very-low income, whereas a family of six making $32,960 would be classified as extremely low-income.

Table showing income limits US Department of Housing and Urban Development

The new income limits arrive as residents and city officials alike seek ways to bolster the city’s stock of affordable housing.

In November, Los Angeles voters approved the Measure JJJ ballot initiative, which requires developers of many residential projects to set a percentage of the units aside for low-income tenants. Meanwhile, city officials are considering new fees on developers to fund construction of new affordable units.

HUD’s new income limits are higher than they were last year, making more residents eligible for low-income housing. Still, the threshold for low-income status in the city isn’t as high as it is in other parts of the state.

As the Orange County Register reports, the threshold for low-income status for a family of four in Los Angeles County is more than $10,000 less than it is in Orange County and nearly $35,000 lower than in San Francisco County. In the Oakland area, families of four earning $80,400 are considered low-income; in Los Angeles the number is $72,100.

That’s a significant difference, considering that at least one recent report suggests that rental prices in LA are now higher than they are in Oakland.

Meanwhile, should that low-income family of four attempt to rent a three-bedroom home in Los Angeles at what the agency considers to be fair market rent ($2,079 per month), they would need to spend well over 30 percent of their income on rent.

Sadly, with affordable developments filling up before they even open and 40,000 people on the wait list for Section 8 rental vouchers, the new income limits may simply be another reminder of how difficult it is to be an LA renter.