What is considered ‘affordable housing’?

POULSBO — The cost of mortgage or rent, and utilities, not exceeding 30 percent of an individual’s or a family’s monthly income.

That’s how most federal, state and local housing programs define “affordable housing,” according to FannieMae, or the Federal National Mortgage Association.

When the cost of housing is above 30 percent of income, the renter or homeowner is said to be “cost burdened.”

In Kitsap County, the average apartment rent was $1,134 in the second quarter of 2016, the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance reported. This is “affordable” only if wage earners are bringing home at least $3,780 a month or $45,360 a year.

According to Town Charts.com, 62 percent of Kitsap County residents earn less than $49,999 a year:

  • 31 percent earn $20,000 to $49,999.
  • 18 percent earn less than $10,000.
  • 7 percent earn $10,000 to $14,999.
  • 6 percent earn $15,000 to $19,999.

The “30 percent rule” has been challenged by some experts, who argue that, for families earning the federal minimum wage, even 30 percent may be too much. In 2016, for example, someone earning the federal minimum wage would have to work 112 hours per week, 52 weeks a year, to be able to afford a two-bedroom apartment, according to The National Low Income Housing Coalition.