AMI Falls Short for Determining Affordable Housing Eligibility in NYC

News related to the lack of affordable housing in New York City regularly appears in the press, however, some people question whether affordable housing in New York City is really affordable for the New Yorkers who need it most. Since the 1937 U.S. Housing Act, area median income (AMI) has served as the yardstick to “define the middle class and determine the maximum income people could earn to be eligible for public housing.” According to the city-based affordable housing nonprofit the Association for Neighborhood Housing and Development, “AMI has consistently been about $20,000 higher than the actual median income in the city over the past decade.” The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) calculation represents the income a person would need to earn so that the rent paid would be no more than 35% of income; and because rents have far outpaced wage growth in recent years, the dollar amount for affordable housing income limits is significantly higher than the median income for New Yorkers.