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Are Income Restricted Apartments Bad? (Facts & Myths)

Paying for a place to live is a person’s most important expense. Affording the luxury of four walls and a roof over your head provides individuals and families with a sense of safety and stability. It also allows for focus on other priorities like searching for a better job or tending to your children’s school work. So, when having a living space is uncertain (or when more than half of a person’s paycheck goes to rent that it keeps them from attaining the basic needs of life), it’s hard to put your focus on any other priorities in your life. This is why today, we’re going to focus on misconceptions about income restricted apartments.

Top 3 Misconceptions About Income Based Apartments

When people hear the term “income restricted apartments,” they automatically think negatively about it. It’s commonly misunderstood when the term is actually aimed to help low-income individuals and families have a place to call home. There are already several benefits of renting. But, renting in income-restricted apartments allow for so many people to financially thrive, it’s hard to understand where these misconceptions come from.

To clear up some of these myths we must first understand what income restricted apartments really are.

income restricted apartmentsWhat are Income Restricted Apartments?

Income restricted apartments are not “the projects.” They are apartments that allow people who make below a certain income to be able to rent an apartment at a more affordable rate than a person renting at a non-income restricted apartment.

Finding Income Restricted Apartments

When looking for low-cost apartments, the Public Housing Authority (PHA) maintains the local program under the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD is an organization that sets the standard for low-income housing. And, that standard is based on the average income of the area.

The PHA usually has a list of income-restricted apartments. You could speak with a representative from there, but a much simpler process would be to view income restricted apartments on

All you need to do is:

  • hop on the website and under the drop-down labeled “more filters,”
  • click on “income restricted” under the amenities category,
  • then you’ll be able to view the income restricted apartments in your area.

Change Your Perception

The word “restricted” has somehow de-legitimatized the apartment hunting process for individuals looking for these cheaper rentals. The oppressive stigma behind income restricted apartments is going to be shut down…right now. By the time you finish reading this article, you will have a totally different view of these apartments.

Misconception #1: Income Restricted Apartments are in Bad Areas

As mentioned earlier, a lot of people think that income restricted apartments are in bad areas and are aesthetically unpleasing. But, the reality of it all is that there are exceptionally nice apartments for renters with low incomes. And, they can be in nice areas! In fact, many are located right beside, or near non-restricted apartments.

Misconception #2: People Living in Income Restricted Apartments Want to Leave

Income restricted apartments are often times looked at as something that people go to as a last resort and trying to get away from. Because of the negative connotations associated with these type of apartments, you wouldn’t realize that more people are trying to get into restricted apartments versus wanting to leave them.

You have to think about it. After paying your rent, do you still have money to live? A lot of people who opt for the non-income restricted apartments end being “house broke” after paying their rent. According to the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R), people tend to pay around 30% in rent of their actual income. So when you’re finished paying that, it doesn’t leave you with too much wiggle room financially.

Why Leave When You Can Financially Thrive?

Living in income restricted apartments allow tenants to be able to keep a roof over their head and still have money left over to live and pay other bills. To add to that, let’s be real… the average American working a minimum wage job that pays $7.25 per hour cannot survive on their own. They simply can’t pay rent in a non-income restricted apartment and have money left over for other financial responsibilities.

Misconception #3: The Demographic is Primarily People of Color

Although African Americans make up the largest percentage of people using rental assistance at 42.4%, Caucasian Americans come in a close second at 34.3%, according to There are actually several different types of people living in apartments, it just depends on their financial situation.

It’s very common to see these people living happily in income-restricted apartments:

  • Students
  • Families with children
  • Seniors

The truth of the matter is, income restricted apartments aren’t just for a specific type of people… they’re for all people who have lower incomes. The key consideration is how much you make, not the color of your skin. The whole intent of these apartments is to make finding a place to live more affordable.

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My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. Good points but I still would not want to live in places like this. In my area, these apartments are run down and poorly taken care of. There is high crime, bed bugs, and high traffic/noise. I am glad there are there for those that need it, but thankful I am a homeowner.

    • If they are in a bad area and run down…then those are not the type of income restricted apartments you’d want to pursue. I’m glad you can be a homeowner too! That’s a much better spot to be in!

  2. I’m curious about something. Is there anyway around the income requirements, for instance the place I’m looking at for 1 person 1 bedroom apt I cant make over 28,000 but my va benifits and ssdi come to 32,000. I’m a disabled vet and I cannot work. The place I’m looking at is perfect for me as far as the handicap accessibility it has to offer. So is the anyway around the income requirements.

    • I think that’s a question that’s best for your landlord. Sounds to me like you’re over the limit and might just have to rent a regular place. I’m sure you can find other great options even though the typical rental avenue!

    • I thought state/veteran benefits didn’t count toward income. I know for a fact that college students who receive financial aid (grants/loans) that use the amount left after tuition to help with income don’t need to count that toward their yearly income. I’ve personally been told this. I would think it would work the same way for state benefits.

  3. I have been searching for 2 years for a tax credit apartment. No one seems to know what I’m talking about, when I call the office. I am on a housing list. It won’t even be looked at for another 5 years. Im disabled and I find it extremely overwhelming and frustrating to find an apartment. I just wish I had someone to help!

  4. I’m confused about tax credit apartments and income restricted ..are they both the same? I am going to be a full time student so I heard I can’t live in a tax credit apartment ..why is that?

    • I do not believe they are the same, but I’m admittedly no expert on the topic. When you’re a full-time student, it’s difficult to get accepted into low-cost housing because of the shear mass of people that would qualify. It would basically be every student! That’s not what the program is going for. They’re looking to help low-income families that ARE working and trying to make ends meet. Not going to school and not working. It might seem annoying from your end, but I totally get it from the other side as well.

  5. I’ve been searching for an apartment and came across a beautiful income restricted apartment complex. 2 adults, 1 bedroom. We meet the income requirements and just paid for the credit, background and criminal screening. Our background and criminal is fine. However, my credit isn’t the best. The landlord said they mainly check for late or unpaid electric or utility bills during the credit check that would stop you from getting a utility in your own name once you’re moved in. The only reason my credit is low is from an unpaid credit card bill that doesnt show up on my report anymore, and 1 missed car payment due to me being out of work from surgery for 2 months. Do you think I will be not approved for those reasons? Are income restricted properties a little easier on you for credit scores?

    • Hi Becca. There are no hard and fast rules to go by. Based on the conversation you had with the landlord, it sounds like you still have a good chance to get in.

      Best of luck to you! And thanks for reading! Be sure to check out our free tools page as well!

  6. I retired at 63.
    I have no debt.
    My Social Security income is only $1289 per month.
    I believe I qualify for income restricted senior apartments.
    My house needs to be sold first.
    I will get approx. $100,000 for it.
    Does that disqualify me for any low income housing?
    Do they count your cash assets or just the income from them ie..dividends…interest..etc you receive each month?

    • Hi Karen – Every area has a different set of rules, depending on the cost of the city you live in. So if your assets count as a qualifier (and I haven’t read anywhere that it does), they’ll likely change from city to city. You’ll have to check with your local government office, but I have a hunch you’ll still qualify.

  7. My friend lives in a income restricted apartment. The rent has gone from $600-$821 a month. Her paycheck has gone down to about $1300 a month. What can she do? They are looking at evicting her because she cannot pay the $821 any longer. I would appreciate your help

    • Dang, that’s an awful spot to be in.

      Is it a multi-room place? Can she rent out a room to help make ends meet?

      Does she have any skills to help her earn some more money? Detailing cars? Walking dogs? Watching kids? Building/Fixing things? Anything that would help bump her income up enough to make the rent. THEN, once she’s able to manage that, she’s got to look to increase her income some more to start a solid savings account.

      I hope these ideas help. It’s never easy when you’re struggling like that.

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