The area median income (AMI) in Santa Clara County in 2023 is $181,300, an increase of $12,800 since last year and $30,000 since 2021. This is driving up rents and creating more pressure on low-income earning tenants who qualify for affordable housing. The table below shows affordable rents at different percentages of AMI.

Income & Rent Limits in Santa Clara County, Effective June 15, 2023

Santa Clara County Rent & Income limits

To qualify for affordable, income-restricted housing, your income must fall within a specified range. The majority of all income-restricted rental housing in Santa Clara County is affordable to households who make less than 80% of area median income, with recent efforts focusing on housing for extremely low-income households.

Typically, the term affordable housing refers to housing that is affordable to lower and sometimes moderate-income households, where developments receive subsidies to keep rents low and residents need to income qualify. These housing units are deed-restricted, so they will remain affordable at a specific income level for a long period of time (usually at least 55 years in California). Income level categories are shown at right. Learn more about understanding housing affordability here in Santa Clara County!

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) annually releases income limits that determine eligibility for various federal housing and community development funds. The State’s Department of Housing and Community Development adjusts these limits for use with State programs. State Income Limits are then used to determine applicant eligibility, based on the level of household income, and may be used to calculate affordable housing costs for housing assistance programs.

The County of Santa Clara has one of the highest area median incomes in the country, at $168,500 for a family of four in 2022. In September 2021, Assembly Bill 1043 established California’s acutely low-income levels. After calculating the 4-person area median income (AMI) level, HCD sets the maximum acutely low-income limit to equal 15 percent of the county’s AMI, adjusted for family size.

HUD begins calculations of income limits with the Median Family Income, then may apply adjustments to increase the income limit for areas where rental-housing costs are unusually high in relation to the median income. The methodology can be found here.

Searching for Housing?

Santa Clara County has 270 income-restricted affordable rental developments, with a total of 27,780 units (Affordable Housing Online). There is no comprehensive list of affordable developments at this time, however the City of San Jose maintains a list of projects it has financed. Most of the developments have closed waiting lists, though a few have vacancies and a few have open waiting lists. Check out availability here.

Additional Resources

Photo: Paseo Senter, Charities Housing