When politicians and developers speak of “affordable” housing in San Francisco, they’re typically referring to housing that falls within the City’s Below Market Rate (BMR) program.
Housing units within the BMR program – which includes both condos and apartments – are intended to be affordable to lower and middle-income households and the units and qualifying households are grouped into four bands: Moderate Income, Low Income, Very Low Income, and Extremely Low Income.
The income limits to qualify for below market rate housing are set at a percentage of the Area Median Income (AMI) which is currently $67,500 for an individual in the area that includes San Francisco. The AMI for a household of two is $77,700. And the AMI for a family of four is $97,100.
Households earning less than 30 percent of the AMI fall within the Extremely Low Income band; an income of under 50 percent of the AMI qualifies as Very Low Income; households which make between 50 and 79 percent of the AMI are Low Income. A household income of between 80 and 120 percent of the Area Median qualifies as Moderate.
In other words, individuals making up to $81,000 a year can still qualify for below market rate housing in San Francisco, as could a two-person household making up to $93,240 a year. Those are numbers that are worth remembering the next time you overhear a conversation about the scourge that a below market rate development will bring.
It’s also worth noting that an individual earning less than $53,325 a year or a household of two earning less than $61,383 are considered Low Income in San Francisco.
The median household income in the United States is currently under $53,000 a year.