Decoding the language of housing
Are you confused by the bureaucrat-speak often used to describe various housing elements and policies? We were, too, so we put together a glossary to help you understand the language.
In the city of Santa Barbara the term means households should not be required to pay more than 30 percent of their gross monthly income on rent and utilities, or 35 percent on house payments, homeowners’ association dues, insurance and property taxes, and that the unit should remain affordable to subsequent residents or owners throughout the term of the affordability controls. Specific affordability requirements vary depending upon whether the housing is for rental or sale.
Area Median Income (AMI)
The Housing and Urban Development Department determines the “Area Median Income” for areas throughout the nation, and updates the figure approximately yearly. Municipalities use this figure as a basis for calculating the maximum rents and maximum sale prices permitted under various affordable housing programs. The current annual AMI for a family of four in this area is $64,7000.
The city of Santa Barbara uses the following guidelines to define income:
Income Percentage of Category/Area Median Income
Very low Income 50% or below
Low Income +50% – 80%
Moderate Income +80% – 120%
Middle Income +120% – 160%
Upper-Middle Income +160% – 200%
When a municipality allows development of a greater number of units than would normally be allowed under the existing zoning. In general, as a trade-off, some of the units on the site are then subject to rent restrictions or resale controls.
Inclusionary Housing Programs
Designed to increase the availability of housing opportunities for middle-income and upper-middle income households. Programs, which vary throughout the South Coast, include requirements for larger projects to provide a specified number of inclusionary units within the project or pay in-lieu fees to be used toward producing more housing at an alternate site.
A term used by Habitat for Humanity in which recipients of low-cost housing are required to put in a certain number of hours of labor to build the house.