What is Affordable Housing?

Affordable housing is housing that is appropriate for the needs of a range of very low to moderate income households and priced so that these households are also able to meet other basic living costs such as food, clothing, transport, medical care and education. As a rule of thumb, housing is usually considered affordable if it costs less than 30 percent of gross household income.

In this context, affordable housing refers to housing that has been developed with some assistance from the NSW and/or Commonwealth Governments, including through planning incentives. It may include a range of housing types and sizes, including single or multi-bedroom units or houses, as well as studio apartments. It is only available in some locations and eligibility criteria apply.

Affordable rental housing may be owned by private developers or investors, local governments, charitable organisations or community housing providers. It is usually managed by not for profit community housing providers, and sometimes by private organisations.

Housing markets studied in Australia, were rated as either “seriously” or “severely” unaffordable, based on median house price to annual household income ratios of more than four times.

A lack of competitively priced land was helping drive up prices.


Affordable housing programs also have different eligibility criteria. For information about eligibility see the Affordable Housing Guidelines.