Are income restricted apartments bad?


With the rapid growth of population in the country and a shortage of affordable housing for all, the government saw the need to step in and provide a roof over the heads of those who earn low incomes.

This has been a win for those who had trouble securing a place to live before. Although income-restricted apartments have done a lot of good, there are a couple of cons that come with them.

Keep reading to find out some of the disadvantages of income-restricted apartments and so much more.

Cons that come with income-restricted apartments

These housing plans are beneficial in ensuring fair housing is made available to as many people as possible but it has its downsides on both the renters, landlords, and owners. Take a look at some of these disadvantages:

1. Discrimination may happen

In some apartment buildings, the units are divided into market-rate units and some are income-restricted. Some tenants might be subject to bullying, harassment, and ridicule from those that live in market-rate units and sometimes, even the staff.

2. It is expensive for others

Social housing is financed by the government. The money used for these projects is usually straight out of the taxpayers’ pockets. This sometimes means larger deductions on the other citizens’ paychecks. Some people even argue that the money spent on low-income housing can be channeled to other projects.

Public housing reduces the amount of money left to spend on the other members of the community and it can become a problem once the cost of housing becomes greater than the amount of money getting in from taxes and subsidies. 

3. Preference is not considered

In some cases, moving into an income-restricted apartment means one had no other option. This usually means taking whatever option is available. In the end, some tenants end up with apartments that have finishing, fixtures, and lighting that is not to their liking.

4. Income-restricted housing may cause social isolation

In most cases, the income-restricted apartments are in large buildings. Although this helps strengthen the bond between the neighbors, the tenants may get too comfortable and detach from the rest of the society. 

There is also the chance that the creation of low-income apartments may lead to the creation of deprived areas since more of the citizens who generate a low income will begin to move into these apartments.

5. Higher likelihood of crime

A report done by the Justice Policy Institute on Housing and public safety shed some light on this matter. It discovered a connection between living in income-restricted housing and poor academic performance and drug-related crime.

As a result, other tenants in the low-income apartments and those in nearby private apartment buildings suffer a lack of security and privacy.

6. Payment issues 

With the conventional apartments, a security deposit, the first, and the last months’ rent are paid upfront. However, with some income-restricted housing projects like Section 8 housing, the landlord might experience some delayed payments in the beginning. Sometimes, it takes months before the money is deposited.

This might make it harder for the landlord to keep the building up to standard.

7. Rent limits

The landlord and the building owner(s) can also have a thing against income-restricted apartments since the government usually sets a maximum allowable amount that can be charged in rent.

The amount is usually determined by the Department of Housing and Urban development. Once they set an amount for your property, you cannot charge anything above it, regardless of what the real estate market looks like. 

8. Dealing with the government

Many landlords are also against income-restricted housing because it means dealing with government officials. This gets very hectic very fast since they can be pretty unavailable. In some cases, it will be difficult to set up an online meeting or get an appointment.

9. Inspections

Landlords and building managers might also be wary of renting to income-restricted tenants due to the inspections. The Local Housing Authority annually sends a person to inspect the building and ensure that the unit is up to standard.

If the unit has some issues, the landlord is given some time to fix the problem. If repairs are not done, the landlord might risk losing his/her subsidy.

While this is a basic requirement, some landlords may not want the responsibility that comes with running income-restricted apartments. 

10. Far from social amenities

Most of the time, income-restricted and government-subsidized apartment buildings are usually located in the outskirts of the towns they are found in. This is because land that is further from the town costs less to develop and since the units are not rented at full market value and they don’t bring full profits, developers opt to build the income-restricted apartments in those areas.

As a result, the tenants that live in these apartments have a harder time getting access to schools, medical care, and shopping centers.

11. Long waiting list

Due to the increase in population and the fact that it is harder to get affordable housing, the need for income-restricted apartments is much higher than the available number of houses. 

This results in a long list of families in need of housing and unable to get it, no matter how much they need it.

Advantages of income-restricted apartments

Although income-restricted apartments have their bad sides, that is not all there is to them. Here are some of the benefits that these units have on the tenants, the landlords and owners, and the community at large.

1. They are affordable

One is considered to be spending too much on their rent if it takes up more than 30% of their earnings after taxation. For people earning low incomes, this leaves them with too little for other expenses like food. 

Income-restricted apartment projects ensure that people have more disposable income for giving better opportunities and living standards for their family members. This can help lower the poverty levels in an area. 

2. They have helped to reduce homelessness

The main cause of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing. Income-restricted apartments have helped most of the people who were unable to pay market value rents to put a roof over their heads.

3. Reduced old-age poverty

Old age poverty has been on the rise and one of the reasons that this is so is that rent prices are now higher than the average pension payment. This can lead to many old people losing their homes and ending up on the streets, which is unacceptable for someone who has worked for a large portion of their life.

With income-restricted apartments, they can get housing that matches their pensions, and this makes it possible for them to live out their days without worrying about losing their homes.

4. Lower vacancies

For landlords and owners, having income-restricted apartments might turn into a profit since there are fewer rates of vacancies. This is because these units are not enough to feed the demand there is for them.

Once tenants move into income-restricted apartments, they tend to live there for a long time, unless their income rockets or their family size changes. If they do move out, the vacancies are usually filled in no time.

5. Guaranteed income

For income-restricted apartments, some of the rent is paid in part by the government. This is done using housing vouchers that the government deposit directly so the landlord does not need to worry about delayed payments on the unit.

6. Skilled workforce

The presence of affordable housing in a region can draw professionals to live in the area. Since the rent amount is the key factor that determines where you will live, subsidized amounts can motivate workers to start businesses around the region.

Also, companies that can afford a minimum wage for their employees will be able to remain afloat and retain their workers since they will have a place to live.

7. A stable life

 Most people move from place to place in a short time since they are unable to raise the rent to the unit. Having an apartment you can afford means you can give your children a more constant and stable life.

This gives them a chance to focus more on their schoolwork, sports, and other activities, and in addition, they have a better chance at making long term friendships.

8. Tenants are pre-screened

For an individual to qualify for income-restricted housing, they have to undergo a thorough background check to verify some information about their criminal records, financial records, history of eviction, and drug use.

This takes some work off of the landlord’s hands since they are given tenants that are less likely to cause some trouble. 

9. A well-maintained unit

Part of the requirements that come with living in an income-restricted apartment is that the tenant will be subject to scheduled visits from officers that work with the Public Housing Authority.

If the tenant is unable to maintain the house or is in violation of lease agreements like making holes in the wall, they might risk losing their tenancy. 

Final remarks

In conclusion, although income-restricted apartments have a couple of downsides that cannot be ignored by the landlord, the building owner(s), and even the tenants, are a win for all these parties because of the good that they serve to do.

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author. She enjoys traveling, reading and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC. Connect with her at [email protected]

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