Frequently Asked Questions

What is Affordable Housing?

Affordable housing is a term used to describe dwelling units whose total housing costs are deemed “affordable” to those with a particular household income in a given geographic area. Affordable housing developments are buildings or complexes in which some or all the units are considered affordable according to the aforementioned definition. There are often a range of affordable rents depending on the income of the potential tenant. Who is eligible for affordable housing?

Table for Income Limits:
This is for Below Market Rate units: In some cases, affordable housing is rented at 30% of your income.
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The listing I am interested in has a waitlist. How long are these waitlists, usually?

Waitlists can range from a few months to years. However, if you are looking for affordable housing or interested in obtaining some type of housing subsidy or voucher to help pay for housing, it can be worth your while to go ahead and get yourself on any open waitlists for resources you want. Be sure to keep track of the properties you apply to and contact them when and if your contact information changes.
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What are immediate affordable housing opportunities in Alameda County (without waiting lists)?

Some regular market rate units, SRO (Single Room Occupancy), room shares, sober living homes, transitional housing and shelter beds.
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What is an SRO?

SRO (Single Room Occupancy) hotel means a structure which contains six or more SRO hotel rooms. SRO hotel room means a guest room or efficiency unit, without a full kitchen. Call 211 for referrals.
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How do I find a roommate situation?

Craigslist or other roommate websites. Be sure to fill out a home sharing agreement with roommates.
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What is a sober living home?

Sober living houses (SLHs) or sober living environments, are facilities used by people recovering from substance abuse. They are an interim environment between rehab and mainstream society and offer a safe and supportive place in which people could live while they were in recovery. They are primarily for those who are just coming out of rehab (or recovery centers) and need a place to live that is structured and supportive for those in recovery. It is not necessary to come from rehab. Call 2-1-1 for Alameda County programs.
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What is Transitional housing?

Transitional living refers to any type of living situation that is a temporary housing program that usually offers case management services. Transitional living facilities often offer low cost housing for a limited time of 6 months to several years. Call 2-1-1 for transitional housing in Alameda County.
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What if I find an apartment that’s available next month, but I don’t have a place to stay until then?

This is a common issue. There are few resources available in Alameda County for short term emergency housing. We recommend calling 2-1-1. They offer information and referrals for housing-related services, as well as health and human services.
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What if I can afford the rent, but I can’t afford the security deposit?

This is a common issue. If the landlord is not willing to allow you to pay it in installments there are programs that you may be eligible for. We recommend calling 2-1-1. They offer information and referrals for housing-related services, as well as health and human services.
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I have an eviction or bad credit on my record. Are there still housing options for me?

Yes, there is hope. It is true that many landlords and property managers are reluctant or unwilling to rent to individuals with evictions or bad credit. However, there are landlords and property owners that will give you a chance. CHOICES housing record will note in additional Information if a landlord will work with evictions. It is helpful to write a letter on your own behalf explaining the circumstances around the eviction or bad credit and attach it to your application. Eviction or derogatory credit should fall off of your record in seven years. Consult a free credit repair agency for more information and help repairing it. You do not have to pay for this service. 2-1-1 can help with referrals to resources to repair your credit and eviction history for free.
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What if I don’t meet income qualifications?

There are many market rate units that require 2 – 3 times the rent. CHOICES lists some properties that do not have income requirements.
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I have a disability. Do I have a right to a Reasonable Accommodation?

Yes. 2-1-1 can help you with legal aid referrals and referrals to organizations that can assist you with loans or grants to modify your unit with a reasonable accommodation. Call 2-1-1.
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What is Section 8? How do I get it?

Section 8, or the Housing Choice Voucher Program, is a Federal housing program through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). which provides housing assistance to low-income renters. This assistance comes in the form of rental subsidies, limiting the monthly rent payment of the recipient to 30% of their income. The program is administered locally by public housing authorities or other designated agencies and organizations. The local Housing Authority Websites will post announcements for opportunity to apply for Section 8 waiting lists as they become available. Check the CHOICES Hot News for the local Section 8 lists that are open. Call 2-1-1 for open Section 8 lists for entire state of California.
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What is Public Housing?

Public housing is affordable housing which rent for 30% of household income and come in all sizes and types, from scattered single family houses to high-rise apartments. They are managed and sometimes owned by the local Housing Authorities. The Housing Authority website will post announcements for opportunities to apply for the public housing waiting list. Check the CHOICES Hot News for local public housing waiting lists that are open. Call 2-1-1 for open public housing lists for entire state of California.

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I have fallen behind on my rent. How can I get help?

Check Other Helpful Sites on CHOICES website for a list of Rental assistance programs or call 2-1-1 for agencies that you may qualify for.
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What is rent control? Do all cities in Alameda County have it?

Rent control refers to laws or ordinances that set price controls on the renting of residential housing. It functions as a price ceiling. For a description of ordinances and rent control in Bay Area cities click on this link: For the city of Oakland click on this link: For Union City click on this link:
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How does the developer decide if I am eligible for affordable housing and what is AMI?

AMI stands for Adjusted Median Income which is the mid-point of all incomes for a particular county. For Alameda County it is $123,900.00 annually for a family of four and it changes every year. To establish levels of affordable housing, the developers use percentages of the AMI for a particular county. The most common percentages are: extremely low income 30%, very low income 50% and low income 80% although there can be more percentages used for a building. This type of affordable housing is called Below Market Rate or Tax Credit units. One building usually has several different AMI categories.  Each unit has a unique rent depending on the AMI.  The rent that is established for each AMI will be affordable for that income group. To find out if you qualify for a particular AMI unit see the table below and check with the manager of the building. For example, a family of four with an annual income of less than $37,170.00 qualifies for a 30% AMI unit.

AMI income limits are established each year by the State Treasurer’s office and California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (CTCAC) where you can find the income limits for the year.

2019 AMI Table For Alameda County

One Person Two Person Three Person Four Person Five Person Six Person Seven Person Eight Person
100% Income Level $86,800 $99,200 $111,600 $123,900 $133,900 $143,800 $153,700 $163,600
80% Income Level $69,440 $79,360 $89,280 $99,120 $107,120 $115,040 $122,960 $130,880
70% Income Level $60,760 $69,440 $78,120 $86,730 $93,730 $100,660 $107,590 $114,520
60% Income Level $52,080 $59,520 $66,960 $74,340 $80,340 $86,280 $92,220 $98,160
55% Income Level $47,740 $54,560 $61,380 $68,145 $73,645 $79,090 $84,535 $89,980
50% Income Level $43,400 $49,600 $55,800 $61,950 $66,950 $71,900 $76,850 $81,800
45% Income Level $39,060 $44,640 $50,220 $55,755 $60,255 $64,710 $69,165 $73,620
40% Income Level $34,720 $39,680 $44,640 $49,560 $53,560 $57,520 $61,480 $65,440
35% Income Level $30,380 $34,720 $39,060 $43,365 $46,865 $50,330 $53,795 $57,260
30% Income Level $26,040 $29,760 $33,480 $37,170 $40,170 $43,140 $46,110 $49,080
25% Income Level $21,700 $24,800 $27,900 $30,975 $33,475 $35,950 $38,425 $40,900
20% Income Level $17,360 $19,840 $22,320 $24,780 $26,780 $28,760 $30,740 $32,720

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