Centre for Affordable Housing

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What is affordable housing?

Affordable housing is housing that is appropriate for the needs of a range of very low to moderate income households and priced so that these households are also able to meet other basic living costs such as food, clothing, transport, medical care and education. As a rule of thumb, housing is usually considered affordable if it costs less than 30 percent of gross household income 1.

In this context, affordable housing refers to housing that has been developed with some assistance from the NSW and/or Commonwealth Governments, including through planning incentives. It may include a range of housing types and sizes, including single or multi-bedroom units or houses, as well as studio apartments. It is only available in some locations and eligibility criteria apply.

Although affordable housing is sometimes available for purchase, it is most commonly available for rent.

Affordable rental housing may be owned by private developers or investors, local governments, charitable organisations or community housing providers. It is usually managed by not for profit community housing providers, and sometimes by private organisations.

Affordable housing in NSW has been developed in a range of ways and funded through a mix of sources including government (local/state/Commonwealth) grant or land contributions, planning incentives, philanthropic sources, community housing provider equity contributions and from finance secured against assets owned by community housing providers.


1. While this figure provides a useful benchmark of housing affordability, the definition of affordability varies according to a household’s individual circumstances. Demands on the same gross income may differ significantly.