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How much do you have to make to qualify for affordable housing in NJ?

Affordable housing is a major concern for many New Jersey residents. With the state’s high cost of living and expensive housing markets, finding an affordable place to live can be a challenge, especially for lower-income households. This article will examine the income requirements to qualify for affordable housing programs in New Jersey.

What is Considered Affordable Housing in New Jersey?

Affordable housing refers to housing units that are priced to be affordable for households making below the area’s median income. There are a few common guidelines used to define affordable housing in New Jersey:

– Housing is considered affordable if total housing costs do not exceed 30% of the household’s gross income. This includes rent or mortgage payments and utilities.

– Affordable rental units are priced for households making 60% or less of the area median income (AMI). The AMI levels are determined by HUD and broken down by household size and region.

– Affordable owner-occupied units are priced for households making 80% or less of the AMI.

– Some programs target even lower income levels, such as 30% AMI for extremely low-income households.

So in simple terms, affordable housing should not cost more than 30% of a household’s income, and is priced for specific income brackets depending on the program or funding sources. The target income levels tend to be well below the actual median income, to help serve lower-income populations.

Affordable Housing Income Limits in New Jersey

The income limits for affordable housing eligibility are based on the area median income (AMI) levels set annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The AMI levels vary by region, county, and household size.

Here are the 2022 AMI levels and income limits for affordable housing programs in New Jersey:

Northern New Jersey Region

Household Size 30% AMI Limit 50% AMI Limit 60% AMI Limit 80% AMI Limit
1 Person $24,900 $41,500 $49,800 $66,400
2 Person $28,500 $47,400 $56,880 $75,840
3 Person $32,050 $53,350 $64,020 $85,360
4 Person $35,600 $59,300 $71,160 $94,880
5 Person $38,450 $64,000 $76,800 $102,400
6 Person $41,300 $68,650 $82,380 $109,920
7 Person $44,150 $73,350 $87,960 $117,440
8 Person $47,000 $78,050 $93,540 $124,960

Central New Jersey Region

Household Size 30% AMI Limit 50% AMI Limit 60% AMI Limit 80% AMI Limit
1 Person $24,150 $40,250 $48,300 $64,400
2 Person $27,600 $46,000 $55,200 $73,600
3 Person $31,050 $51,750 $62,100 $82,800
4 Person $34,500 $57,500 $69,000 $92,000
5 Person $37,250 $62,000 $74,400 $99,200
6 Person $40,000 $66,500 $79,800 $106,400
7 Person $42,750 $71,000 $85,200 $113,600
8 Person $45,500 $75,500 $90,600 $120,800

Southern New Jersey Region

Household Size 30% AMI Limit 50% AMI Limit 60% AMI Limit 80% AMI Limit
1 Person $23,100 $38,500 $46,200 $61,600
2 Person $26,400 $44,000 $52,800 $70,400
3 Person $29,700 $49,400 $59,280 $79,040
4 Person $32,950 $54,800 $65,760 $87,680
5 Person $35,500 $59,150 $70,980 $94,640
6 Person $38,050 $63,500 $76,200 $101,600
7 Person $40,600 $67,850 $81,420 $108,560
8 Person $43,150 $72,200 $86,640 $115,520

As you can see, the income limits vary across household size and region, but generally fall well below the actual median income. Larger households have higher income limits, but even for a single person the affordable housing income thresholds in New Jersey are relatively low.

Common Affordable Housing Programs and Eligibility

There are a variety of government and nonprofit programs that provide affordable housing opportunities for eligible households in New Jersey. Here are some of the most common programs and their income requirements:

Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program

– Provides rental assistance vouchers to very low-income families, seniors, and disabled individuals to help pay rent.
– Eligibility: Households earning 50% or less of the AMI. Priority is given to households at 30% AMI and below.
– Voucher holders pay 30% of their adjusted income towards rent and utilities. The voucher covers the remaining costs.

Public Housing

– Provides affordable rental housing owned and managed by local public housing authorities.
– Eligibility: Households earning 80% or less of the AMI. 40% of new applicants must be at 30% AMI or below.
– Rent is based on 30% of the household’s adjusted annual income.

LIHTC (Low Income Housing Tax Credit)

– Provides tax credits to developers to build affordable rental housing.
– Eligibility: At least 40% of units must be affordable for households at 60% AMI or less.
– Rent is restricted to 30% of either 50% or 60% of AMI depending on the unit.

HOME Investment Partnerships Program

– Federal block grant program funding affordable housing activities, including new construction and rehabilitation.
– Eligibility: Typically beneficiaries are at or below 60% of AMI depending on the activity.
– Rents are set as affordable for specific income groups, usually ranging from 30% to 80% of AMI.

State Rental Assistance Program (SRAP)

– Provides temporary rental assistance vouchers for working families in New Jersey.
– Eligibility: Households must have an income below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level.
– The voucher subsidizes a portion of the monthly rent based on household size and income.

In addition to these government-driven programs, many nonprofit organizations and community land trusts offer affordable housing opportunities in New Jersey. The income limits are generally similar, with most programs targeting households earning 60% or less of AMI.

Affordable Homeownership Programs and Eligibility

There are also programs that help lower-income households purchase affordable homes in New Jersey:

First-time Homebuyer Programs

– Offered through the NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, these programs provide 30-year fixed rate mortgages and down payment assistance for first-time buyers.
– Eligibility: Households earning up to 80% of AMI are eligible for the mortgages. Down payment help is limited to households at 50% AMI.

HomeSeeker Program

– Helps first-time buyers purchase homes constructed through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit.
– Eligibility: Household income must be at or below 80% of AMI.

Community Land Trust Homes

– Nonprofit community land trusts sell homes at affordable rates and keep land ownership to preserve long-term affordability.
– Eligibility: Buyers typically have incomes at or below 80% of AMI. Some programs go as low as 30% AMI.

The key is finding programs that offer mortgages, financial assistance, and housing units that are priced specifically for lower-income buyers, making homeownership achievable. The income requirements vary across programs but are always well below median incomes for the regions.

Income Verification for Affordable Housing Programs

For most affordable housing programs, applicants must provide income documentation to verify that they meet the income eligibility guidelines. Some common forms of income verification include:

– Pay stubs showing year-to-date earnings
– Federal tax returns for the previous year
– Documentation of non-wage income like child support, Social Security, disability benefits, etc.
– Bank statements showing any interest or asset income
– Certification of zero income if the applicant has no income

The housing provider will review income documents for all adult household members to calculate the total household income. Income is looked at before any adjustments, exemptions or deductions. Gross income is used to check eligibility for affordable housing programs.

Applicants may need to show additional documentation such as birth certificates, social security cards, marriage licenses, or divorce decrees depending on the program policies. The documentation requirements ensure only income-qualified applicants receive assistance.

Options for Meeting Income Requirements

For households who exceed the income limits for affordable housing programs, there may still be some options:

Apply for Programs with Higher Income Limits

– Some programs like first-time homebuyer loans allow incomes up to 80% or more of AMI. Higher limits accommodate moderate-income families.

Find Programs Targeting Specific Occupations

– Some affordable housing developments are set aside just for certain occupations like teachers, nurses, firefighters or veterans. The income thresholds may be a bit higher.

Ask About Income Averaging Policies

– LIHTC developments can average income levels across multiple units, so some units are affordable for families up to 80% of AMI, offsetting lower 30% AMI units.

Inquire About Hardship Exceptions

– Some housing providers have hardship policies for applicants who slightly exceed the guidelines but need affordable housing. Documentation of medical costs, disability expenses or other mitigating factors may help.

Apply for a Voucher Program Like Section 8

– Since vouchers only cover a portion of total housing costs, they may be able to assist families who are over the income limits for other programs.

Consider Shared or Group Housing

– Sharing housing costs with roommates or applying as a group for a larger unit are ways to meet income requirements.

Meeting the guidelines can be tough in states like New Jersey with high housing costs, but reaching out to housing providers directly to discuss options is recommended. There may be some flexibility or exceptions possible.


Affordable housing programs in New Jersey aim to assist households earning well below the median income and high housing costs. Specific income limits apply based on the region, household size, and type of program or funding. Limits range from 30% to 80% of area median income in most cases.

Applicants must provide income verification and documentation to prove eligibility before receiving affordable housing resources. Meeting the income requirements can be difficult given New Jersey’s high cost of living, but exploring alternative programs, exceptions, and shared housing solutions may help. Reaching out to program administrators to discuss your unique situation is always recommended. With many different housing programs available, there may be assistance possible even if one option does not pan out.