What is affordable housing? – Housing is generally considered "affordable" if you are paying no more than 30% of your household income toward your housing expenses. If you are having a hard time paying your rent, are homeless, living in an over-crowded situation or in unsafe or unsanitary housing, you may qualify for affordable housing programs. Affordable housing programs come in different forms.
Are you eligible? – To be eligible for affordable housing, the income that you and your family earn or receive per year must be within a certain amount (limit) set by the federal government. This amount is different, depending on the size of your family and on the specific affordable housing that you are trying to get. The income limits for affordable housing are stated as a percentage of the median income for the San Francisco area, or "Area Median Income (AMI)." For example, while one unit may have an income limit of 20% of the Area Median Income (20% of AMI), another unit may have an income limit of 60% of the Area Median Income (60% of AMI). If you or your family's income is equal to or less than the income limit for the housing that you're interested in, you may be eligible for it. There are other requirements that you must meet to be eligible, but income is the most important one. Remember that you'll have to review the income limits for each posting; however, most units will be available to households at 60% of median income or below. Click here to review the most commonly used income limits by household size.
Where is the housing? – You'll find affordable housing in many parts of San Francisco. It is financed, developed, owned and operated by several different organizations. At this point, there is no single place where you can apply for all of the units at one time. Continue reading to get information about whom to contact and where to go to apply.
Housing and Homelessness Resources – For help with navigating housing and homelessness resources in San Francisco, please read the SF Housing and Homelessness Resource Guide (pdf).
What is available and how do I apply?
(1) Apply for "Below Market Rate (BMR)" Rental units - If your household income falls between 55% of Area Median Income and 120% of Area Median Income, you might be eligible to apply for a "Below Market Rate (BMR)" unit. Owners of certain private, for-profit rental housing set aside some apartments in their buildings and charge rents for these units that are below market rate. The rents range according to each unit and the specific income requirement for each unit.
(2) Apply for units in affordable buildings that are built and managed by nonprofit agencies – Click here for current listings.
If your household income falls between 0% of Area Median Income and 60% of Area Median Income, you may be eligible to apply for an affordable rental unit managed by a nonprofit agency. The Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development provides financing to help create affordable rental housing in San Francisco, but we do not own and operate any affordable apartments or houses. The rental housing that our financing helps to create is owned and operated by private, non-profit corporations. To apply for this housing, you must contact the nonprofit agencies that manage them directly. Please click on current listings (above) for more information.
(3) Apply for units through the San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) - Click here for current listings and program information.
The San Francisco Housing Authority owns and operates affordable apartments in several buildings across the city. SFHA also operates the Section 8 Rental Assistance Program. The Section 8 Program helps low-income people to afford regular apartments in San Francisco by paying part of the rent directly to the landlord. For more information, visit the SFHA web site, or contact their office at 440 Turk Street, San Francisco, CA 94102, (415) 554-1200.
(4) Sign up for the Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development Email Alert System - Sign up to receive emails regarding most newly posted affordable housing by clicking here.
(5) Contact local housing counseling agencies for specific rental concerns - Click here for a list of agencies.
There are a number of agencies in San Francisco who may be able to assist you with questions regarding your rights as a renter and other renter information.