Every year the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is required by law to set income limits for participation in federal housing assistance programs. Area Median Income (AMI) is the official income threshold for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, Public Housing, Section 202 for the elderly, and Section 811 for persons with disabilities. HUD’s AMI estimate is also commonly used as a factor in determining eligibility for other programs federal and other programs like: Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), FDIC rural housing programs, and HOME Investment Partnerships. Keep a look out for CDBG and CRA eligibility updates coming soon.
On PolicyMap we display AMI at the county subdivision geography. If you’re living on the West Coast, or looking anywhere outside of the Northeast you might wonder why we do this; AMI in most of the country comes out at the county level. But in some parts of the country AMI is released at the sub-county level. In Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont AMI is calculated for geographies smaller than county, something akin to townships, called Minor Civil Divisions.
What changes should you expect with AMI in your area? First, starting last year HUD ended its ‘hold harmless’ policy that income thresholds never go below previously published levels. That means AMI can now dip below what it was in years past but it cannot drop more than 5% in a single year. Second, for the first time this year HUD relied on 5-year American Community Survey (ACS) data in its estimates of median family incomes. For the first time HUD did not have to rely on outdated 2000 Census data to generate its numbers. Log onto PolicyMap now and see what the median income is in your area.