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Affordable Housing in the City of Boulder

Affordable Housing for Low/Moderate and Middle Income Households


Affordable housing is a vital component of a community that creates thriving environments for people to live. Without it, families may be priced out of their communities due to the increasing financial burden of housing costs. To ensure that Boulder provides families and individuals with safe and affordable places to live, the city adopted a new goal in 2019 that 15 percent of all housing be permanently affordable to low and moderate income households. To accomplish it, the City of Boulder implemented multiple programs and policies to increase access to affordable housing options.


What is affordable housing?

  • Affordable housing is defined as households spending less than 30 percent of their income on housing.

What is Area Median Income or AMI?

  • Area Median Income, commonly referred to as "AMI," is a federal calculation based on census data from Boulder. Half of households make less than the 100 percent Area Median Income and half make more.
  • Income limits for affordable housing, both rental and homeownership, are established at different percentages of the AMI.
  • The 2019 AMI for a Household of 3 in the City of Boulder is $102,300.

What defines low/moderate and middle income households?

  • Low income households range from 0 percent to 60 percent of the Area Median Income. For example, the range for a 3-person household is $0 - $61,380 in the City of Boulder.
  • Moderate income households range from 61 percent to 79 percent of the Area Median Income. For example, the range for a 3-person household is $62,000-$81,000 in the City of Boulder.
  • Middle income households range from 80 percent to 120 percent of the Area Median Income. For example, the range for a 3-person household is $82,000-$123,000 in the City of Boulder.

How are households eligible to live in an affordable housing unit?

  • Both renters and homeowners need to be eligible for a specific housing unit that they would like to occupy. Each housing unit has specific income designation and can serve individuals at or below that designation. Please visit for more information.

Number of people living in affordable homes in the City of Boulder Indicator

  • This indicator was calculated using the State of Colorado standard of 1.5 people per bedroom. The City of Boulder believes that this is an underestimation of the number of people living in affordable housing in Boulder.

Goals and Trends

The City of Boulder has a goal of 15 percent for all housing units to be affordable for low and moderate income households. Of those 15%, a 1000 units are dedicated for middle income households. Currently 7.8 percent of housing units are affordable for low and moderate income households in the City of Boulder. The 15 percent goal is adjusted annually to take into account market rate developments. Market rate housing generally grows at a rate of 1 percent per year.

The number and percent of permanently affordable housing units for low and moderate income households has been increasing each year.

Efforts to Increase Affordable Housing

The City of Boulder actively works to increase the number of affordable housing stock through multiple policies, programs, and regulations. One of the main necessary components of building affordable housing is the availability of financial resources. The city utilizes several methods to secure funding for affordable housing such as linkage fees, inclusionary housing policies, earmarked taxes, and leveraging other external funds. Employing these various techniques have proven to successfully increase funding, resulting in a rise of affordable housing development in the city. 

In addition, the city serves as a leader in the development of the Boulder County Regional Housing Partnership committed addressing the diverse housing needs across the region. Through the Regional Housing Partnership a regional strategy has been created, seeking a unified vision, goals and set of strategies to provide affordable housing for Boulder county.

In 2018, City council created a Housing Advisory Board to expand the city’s capacity to address housing challenges and accelerate progress toward the city’s housing goals.

Data Sources

Division of Housing Data System-  The Division of Housing keeps records of all affordable units in the City of Boulder.

Annual Tenant Report (ATR)- Demographic data is collected through the ATR on an annual basis. Data submission on demographics is voluntary and may be incomplete.

American Community Survey (ACS)- Race/Ethnicity data for the City of Boulder was summarized from the 2017 ACS.

About the Data:  This data is provided by the Housing and Human Services Department. This page will be updated quarterly.