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What is Affordable Housing

Learn about affordable housing, who qualifies, and why it's important to build more in our community.

The price of affordable housing is set so that those earning a lower income can afford to pay for it. In Marin, a household of four in 2023 earning less than $148,650 a year is considered low-income and qualifies for most affordable housing. To be considered affordable, housing costs should not exceed 30% of a household’s gross income.

Types of Affordable Housing

There are different types of affordable housing, including:

  • Public housing: The government operates public housing. Public housing is generally reserved for low-income households. In Marin County, public housing is managed by the Marin Housing Authority.
  • Section 8 vouchers: Section 8 housing is government subsidized housing. The tenant pays up to 30% of their income, and the voucher covers the rest of the cost, up to Fair Market Rent. Vouchers help low-income households rent in the private market. To learn more about Section 8 vouchers in Marin, please contact the Marin Housing Authority.
  • Affordable units: Nonprofit organizations often offer affordable units. These are affordable choices for low- and moderate-income households. Learn about the organizations that can help you find affordable housing in Marin on our Housing Help page.
  • Community Land Trusts (CLT): CLTs are typically owned and managed by nonprofit organizations. The CLTs often offer homes for sale. They sell only the home while keeping the land with the goal of keeping prices low. There are a number of CLTs in Marin, including the Bolinas Community Land Trust, Community Land Trust Association of West Marin, Two Valleys Community Land Trust, Hope Housing of Marin, and Mt. Tam Community Land Trust
  • Homeownership programs: Homeownership programs help low-income households who want to buy a home. These programs often offer financial help to pay for a down payment or help to improve credit scores. Learn more on our Housing Help page.

In Our Community

Affordable homes are found throughout Marin, in all shapes and sizes.

  • Multi-story house on a hill with a back deck and poppies showing in the foreground.
    Drake's Way in Larkspur offers affordable homes with views of the bay. The homes are close to transit, parks, and the Marin County Mart.
  • Grey two story home with a front porch with two chairs.
    This affordable home in Bolinas is one of two on this property. The homes bring much-needed affordable housing to West Marin.
  • Two story multi-unit building with a driveway and parking surrounding the building.
    With views of Mt. Tam, Toussin Senior Apartments in Kentfield provides 13 affordable rental homes for older adults.
  • Several two story single family homes with driveways and front yards lined with trees and shrubbery.
    North Novato's Mt. Burdell Place includes 10 affordable single-unit homes that were made available to first-time homebuyers.
  • Two story multi-unit building surrounded by vegetation.
    Victory Village includes 53 one-bedroom affordable units for older adults. The homes, located in Fairfax, were first made available in 2020.
  • Two level apartments surrounding open space with pathways and gardens.
    The Fireside in Mill Valley, located at the historic Fireside Inn, provides 50 units of affordable housing and a community center.

Marin Needs More Affordable Housing

We have a shortage of affordable housing in Marin and around the region.  A one-bedroom apartment can cost over $2,000 a month and is beyond what many can pay, pushing people out of the community.  About 62% of workers commute from other counties into Marin.

The lack of affordable housing can contribute to:   

  • Homelessness, housing insecurity and displacement
  • Overcrowding 
  • Substandard housing conditions
  • More regional traffic due to more commuters

Learn more about how we are addressing affordable housing needs through our Housing Element plan.


Page updated June 27, 2024