Affordable Housing 101

How is affordable housing built in Berkeley?

There are two primary ways affordable housing is built in Berkeley. When new multifamily rental housing is built in Berkely, developers must contribute to affordable housing at the rate of 10:1 (for every ten market rate units they build, the developer must contribute one affordable unit). This requirement can be fulfilled through one of two options listed below. Additionally, developers building tall buildings in the downtown are subject to additional community benefits.  

  • Option 1: Paying an Impact Fee into the Housing Trust Fund: Instead of building units onsite, developers can pay an impact fee of $37,000 per unit of rental housing that goes into the Housing Trust Fund. The City works with nonprofit housing partners to use those funds to build affordable housing. These partners include Satellite Affordable Housing Associates, Resources for Community Development, Northern California Land Trust, etc.

  • Option 2: Building Affordable Units On-Site: To avoid the Affordable Housing Mitigation Fee completely, 20% of the units in the development must be provided to qualified households at rental rates affordable to Low-Income and Very Low-Income households.  Half of the affordable units must be provided to households with rents and incomes no greater than Low Income (80% of Area Median for the household and unit size) and half at Very Low- Income (50% of Area Median).  If an odd number of affordable units are provided, the majority must be Very Low-Income. 

Who qualifies as “Very low income?”

Very low income means a household with income no more than 50% of the Area Median income, which in 2015 is $42,100 for a household of three.

Income, Alameda County 2015

1 person

2 person

3 person

4 person

30% AMI, Extremely Low Income





50% AMI, Very Low Income





80% AMI, Low Income





100% AMI, Median Income





120% AMI, Moderate Income






Are other income levels struggling to find housing?

Yes. Berkeley’s housing crisis expands across all income levels - there is not enough supply to meet demand. While there is a focus on building units for extremely and very low income households, there are still low and median income workers who struggle to afford units in Berkeley.

Sample scenarios of household makeup/income are below, depicting only City of Berkeley employee salaries. The data on city employee salaries comes from a May 2015 report by the City of Berkeley.  

A low income household (80% AMI) could look like:

  • 1 person household (hh): 1 sports official ($36,900)

  • 2 person hh: 1 laborer ($54,108) + kid

  • 3 person hh: 1 paralegal ($64,080) + stay at home partner + baby

A median income household (100% AMI) could look like:

  • 1 person hh: 1 legislative aide ($60,000- slightly below) or 1 Step A Librarian: ($63,516)

  • 2 person hh: 1 senior librarian ($73,080) + 1 kid

  • 3 person hh: 2 library aides ($41,676) + 1 kids  or 1  Firefighter ($80,142) +2 kids

  • 4 person hh: 1 Staff Attorney ($86,904) + stay at home parent + baby

A moderate income (120% AMI) household could look like:

  • 1 person hh: 1 Rec program supervisor ($72,168)

  • 2 person hh: 1 starting teacher ($40,852) + 1 Step 6 teacher ($46,135) = $86,987

  • 3 person hh: 2 janitors ($47,856) + kid

  • 4 person hh: 1 police officer Step F ($111,912) + stay at home parent + 2 kids


Where are affordable units in Berkeley?

Here is a map showing some locations of affordable housing units in Berkeley:

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