Affordable Housing: Living on the Edge in Durham

Thank you joining us again. This post is Part 2 in our series on the Durham Affordable Housing Bond. If you didn’t catch Part 1: The Facts, click here.

So what is affordable housing anyway?

There are two standards to measure affordable housing. 1) percentage of income below AMI (Annual Median Income) qualifies a household for assistance for affording a home 2) percentage of income going toward housing should be no more than 30% for housing to be considered affordable.

What is the annual median income in Durham?

The annual median income for an entire household (pre-tax) for the Durham-Chapel Hill Metropolitan Statistical Area is $80,600.[1] Income is best understood by considering the number of individuals within one household. Below you can see what the percentage AMI is for a variety of households and income levels and what type of assistance they are usually capable of receiving.

How many households need affordable housing according to the AMI criteria?

Income Level 1 person household 2 person household 3 person household 4 person household Assistance Eligibility (approx..)
30% AMI $17,850 $20,400 $22,950 $25,450 Public Housing
60% AMI $35,640 $40,740 $45,840 $50,880 Low End of Affordable Home Ownership Programs
80% AMI $47,500 $54,300 $61,110 $67,850 High End of Affordable Home Ownership Programs
2019 Area Median Income for Durham-Chapel Hill MSA*[2] $59,425 $67,925   $76,430 $84,815 Affordable Housing is Market Rate

“According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, nearly half of Durham households—53,525 to be exact—earn 80 percent of the AMI or less. (In 2018, that was about $72,000 for a family of three.) Eighteen thousand families earn less than 30 percent of the AMI, about $21,700.”[3]

How many households in Durham are in need of affordable housing using criteria 2?

Spending more than 30% of total income on housing is considered being cost-burdened by housing. According to the NC Housing Coalition, 31% of Durham County residents (39,582 households) are cost-burdened; 49% of renters (28,917 households) and 16% of homeowners (10,665 households) are cost-burdened.

How many new units will be provided through the bond/5-year plan?

New properties will add 863 affordable units, 405 market rate units will be added.[4] The number of spaces for public assistance cannot be decreased. The city estimates that 1,600 affordable units will be created and that 800 units will be preserved.

As you can see, the need for affordable housing is high in Durham. The bond and 5-year plan will have an impact, but we will still need to work hard as a community to make an affordable Durham a reality for all of us.


[1] NC Housing Coalition infographic. https://nchousing.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/NCH-CountyProfile-Durham.pdf

[2] Calculated by UMD using COD provided AMI levels of 30/60/80

[3] Sarah Willets, “What You Need to Know About the Largest Proposed Housing Bond Referendum in North Carolina History,” Indy Week, 2/26.

[4] Campaign website. https://www.durhamaffordablehousingbond.com/en/the-plan