City of San Carlos - Finding Affordable Housing

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Finding Affordable Housing

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The City Council values diversity in this community. The housing crisis is a barrier that must be overcome to ensure the community remains diverse and thriving. The City Council has established a number of strategic objectives addressing affordable housing and diversity. To begin overcoming the housing crisis, we all need to understand the forces driving the rise in housing prices, examine the San Carlos housing market, and recognize the persistent need for more affordable housing.


1. What is Affordable Housing and why is it necessary?

“Affordable” means a household is spending 30% or less of its income before taxes on housing expenses (rent or mortgage payments, utilities, insurance, property taxes and Homeowner’s Association dues). As you can see in the chart below, if your family of three makes $115,000 annually (less than the highlighted income limit), you would qualify for a moderate income below market rate (BMR) unit.

High housing costs are driven, in large part, by the booming economy and relatively few housing units being constructed regionally. Between 2011 and 2015, over half a million jobs were created in the Bay Area, but only 65,000 housing units were constructed. That is one home for every eight jobs in a region where housing vacancy was already very low.

In addition, while the economy is currently creating jobs, more than half of the jobs being added are middle and low wage. Between 2010 and 2013, the Bay Area added 81,180 middle and 55,380 low wage jobs, paying on average $51,600 and $32,689, respectively. While this job creation is positive, these salaries, in most cases, are not high enough to cover Bay Area rents, let alone a home purchase.


2. Does your income qualify for affordable housing in San Mateo County? Affordable or below marketrate refers to housing that is priced to be affordable to those making less than 120% of the area median income (or AMI). The table below, updated annually, provides income limits for affordable housing:



3. Below is a list of agencies in San Mateo County that offer assistance with locating affordable housing:

 General Housing Resources:
  Home for All
  San Mateo County Housing Search
  San Mateo County Affordable Rental Housing List
  HIP Housing
  Project Sentinel (A HUD-approved Housing Counseling Agency)
  Housing Endowment and Regional Trust (HEART) of San Mateo County
 Rebuilding Together Peninsula
 LifeMoves (formerly Shelter Network)
 Samaritan House

 Affordable Housing Developers:
 Mid-Peninsula Housing Coalition
 Bridge
 Eden Housing
 First Community Housing
 Lesley Senior Communities 
 Mercy Housing

Housing Resources for People with Disabilities:
Center for Independence of the Disabled  
PARCA

Other Resources:
CALL Primrose Center (food pantry and direct aid referrals)

4. Click the Apply Now button below to add yourself to the City of San Carlos Below-Market Rate Housing Waitlist. Priority is given to those individuals who live and/or work in San Carlos. Please be advised that the waitlist currently has over 200 applicants.

Apply Now


5. For more information about the affordable housing crisis and solutions, see these resources:

Click here to view the article Finding Solutions to the Affordable Housing Shortage.