Affordable housing is one of the hottest topics in the real estate market these days. It all started with Mayor de Blasio’s plan to preserve or build 200,000 affordable units over the next ten years, which has resulted in a slew of new lotteries for below-market rate apartments, putting his goalahead of schedule. And let’s not forget the expiration of the controversial 421-a tax abatement, which provides incentives to developers when they reserve at least 20 percent of a building’s units for low- and moderate-income tenants. But despite the buzz-worthy roll affordable housing has been on, many are still left wondering what exactly it is.

Is there a difference between affordable housing and low-income housing?

Yes, there’s a difference between affordable housing and NYCHA housing. The latter operates public housing projects that are reserved for low-income persons (you can see the specific eligibility requirements here). NYCHA developments are built with federal, state, or city funds and are exempt from certain local laws. The national Section 8 program, which allows tenants to put 30 percent of their income toward rent in privately-owned buildings with the federal program subsidizing the difference, also falls under NYCHA.

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