Housing Definitions

Affordable housing: Housing is considered "affordable" when a household spends less than 30% on income on rent or mortgage. When a household is spending above this amount, it is considered "cost-burdened." Nearly 1 in 2 Houston renters are cost-burdened. Everyone needs affordable housing, but not every household has the income to support rising housing costs in Houston. HHA provides affordable housing in the form of public housing, the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP), mixed-income housing, Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), workforce housing and more.


  • Public housing: Public housing federally-subsidized housing designed to provide decent and safe rental housing for eligible low-income families, the elderly, veterans and persons with disabilities. Public housing can come in all sizes and types, from scattered single-family houses to highrise apartments for elderly families. In Houston, HHA owns these rental properties and they are managed by PMCs (property management companies)
  • Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP): HCVP is one of the federal government's largest programs that provide safe, quality and affordable housing to low-income families, those with disabilities, veterans, and the elderly for rental units chosen by the tenant in the private market. It provides tenant-based assistance in the form of vouchers and provides payment directly to participating property owners to offset the cost difference between tenant payments and unit rent.
  • Project-based vouchers (PBV): PBVs are part of the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP). Housing authorities use tenant-based voucher funding to allocate project-based units to a certain community.
  • Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC): LIHTC is deemed as the "most important resource for creating affordable housing in the United States today," by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). LIHTC is an indirect federal subsidy designed to incentivize private developers and investors with tax credits to construct and rehabilitate affordable housing for low- and mid-income tenants.
  • Workforce Housing: Workforce housing allows mid-income Houstonians the chance to live in quality, affordable homes in close proximity to their jobs. It is a small subsidy designed for professionals earning around 80% of the area median income. This can include police officers, teachers and nurses. Learn more about workforce housing here.
  • Mixed-income housing: A community comprised of housing units at different levels of affordability. This typically includes market-rate units and units for low- and middle-income households.