Top 10 Best States for Low-Income Housing, 2017

Top 10 Best States for Affordable Housing such as this apartment building. 10 Best Cities for Affordable Housing affordable housing ballot measures

Efficientgov included cost of living data in determining the top 10 best states for low-income housing. HUD reports a wage-rent gap affecting more than 12 million.

As the wage-rent gap continues to widen, low-income housing growth remains stagnant. While most experts agree that a household should not spend more than 30 percent of their household income on rent, Department of Housing and Urban (HUD) reports that about 12 million households currently pay more than 50 percent of their annual incomes for housing.

Who is eligible for low-income housing?

To determine who is eligible for affordable housing, HUD focuses on median wages reflective of the region. By looking at data points outside of specific metros, we are able to factor in families searching for housing beyond the city itself to find a place to live. HUD determines three levels of low-income housing eligibility based on household size and percent difference from the area median income (AMI). The three brackets are:

  • Extremely low-income (0-30 percent of AMI)
  • Very low-income (30-50 percent of AMI)
  • Low-income (50-80 percent of AMI)

By law, a public housing agency (PHA) must provide 75 percent of its vouchers to applicants whose incomes do not exceed 30 percent of the area median income.

Which states have more low-income housing?

Efficientgov used HUD Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments Program data to find out which states or territories have the most low-income housing opportunities.

Not only did we take into consideration the number of complexes per capita, we also considered factors that could hinder one’s ability to afford their home, like cost of living and unemployment rate.

By using a weighted calculation system we were able to determine the top ten best states for low-income housing in 2017. The full methodology — and our interactive heat map — provides information for the entire United States.

The Top Ten Best States for Low-Income Housing in 2017:
10. Kansas
  • Affordable housing complexes per capita: 6
  • National cost of living index rank: 9
  • Unemployment rate: 6

To qualify for low-income housing in Kansas, a one-person household must fall under the statewide income limit of $38,350.  The median family wage in Kansas is $74,900.

9. Minnesota
  • Affordable housing complexes per capita: 2
  • National cost of living index rank: 29
  • Unemployment rate: 3

To qualify for low-income housing in Minnesota, a one-person household must fall under the statewide income limit of $45,000. The median family wage in Minnesota is $91,600.

8. Missouri
  • Affordable housing complexes per capita: 3
  • National cost of living index rank: 4
  • Unemployment rate: 5

To qualify for low-income housing in Missouri, a one-person household must fall under the statewide income limit of $45,000. The median family wage in Missouri is $81,700.

7. New Hampshire
  • Affordable housing complexes per capita: 2
  • National cost of living index rank: 39
  • Unemployment rate: 7

To qualify for low-income housing in New Hampshire, a one-person household must fall under the statewide income limit of $46,550. The median family wage in New Hampshire is $73,300.

6. Iowa
  • Affordable housing complexes per capita: 6
  • National cost of living index rank: 6
  • Unemployment rate: 3

To qualify for low-income housing in Iowa, a one-person household must fall under the statewide income limit of $39,150. The median family wage in Iowa is $53,200.

5. Vermont
  • Affordable housing complexes per capita: 8
  • National cost of living index rank: 40
  • Unemployment rate: 9

To qualify for low-income housing in Vermont, a one-person household must fall under the statewide income limit of $38,800. The median family wage in Vermont is $110,300.

4. North Dakota
  • Affordable housing complexes per capita: 16
  • National cost of living index rank: 30
  • Unemployment rate: 5

To qualify for low-income housing in North Dakota, a one-person household must fall under the statewide income limit of $44,150. The median family wage in North Dakota is $84,900.

3. Nebraska
  • Affordable housing complexes per capita: 5
  • National cost of living index rank: 13
  • Unemployment rate: 7

To qualify for low-income housing in Nebraska, a one-person household must fall under the statewide income limit of $38,200. The median family wage in Nebraska is $61,600.

2. South Dakota
  • Affordable housing complexes per capita: 4
  • National cost of living index rank: 22
  • Unemployment rate: 5

To qualify for low-income housing in South Dakota, a one-person household must fall under the statewide income limit of $37,650. The median family wage in South Dakota is $55,500.

1. Arkansas
  • Affordable housing complexes per capita: 8
  • National cost of living index rank: 2
  • Unemployment rate: 6

To qualify for low-income housing in Arkansas, a one-person household must fall under the statewide income limit of $29,800. The median family wage in Arkansas is $77,800.

How is this list different from our list in 2016?

Last year, Efficientgov ‘s top 10 best states for affordable housing did not include the cost of living data. Because cost of living is a factor in how salaries at the low-income level, per city or state, are pressured we have included it in this year’s analysis. Additionally, we added clearer visibility to the median income in each state.

Editor’s Note: Published December, 22, 2017.

About the author

Megan Wells, EfficientGov Contributor

Megan Wells, EfficientGov Contributor

Megan Wells is a data journalist and digital content editor based in San Francisco, Calif. She is content strategist at Praetorian Digital.