Join the Conversation: 5 Terms You Need to Know about Affordable Housing

Affordable housing mercy housing

As the national affordable housing crisis continues, and in some places worsens, we bring you five terms you need to know when talking about affordable housing. During Poverty Awareness Month, we hope you find these definitions useful.

30 percent affordable housing Mercy Housing5. 30 percent

When is housing affordable? When you spend 30 percent or less on your income, according to most experts. Unfortunately, about one in four renters spends at least half of their income on housing costs.







Fair Market Rent4. Fair Market Rent

Fair Market Rent is a term used to describe how much money a home would be put up for rent at a given moment. In no state can a person working full-time at minimum wage afford a one-bedroom apartment at the Fair Market Rent.







redlining3. Redlining

Redlining happens when lenders refuse to lend money or extend credit to creditworthy people in a certain area based on the area’s racial composition. The term comes from maps that private and public institutions used. Neighborhoods were rated and color-coded on these maps.

Neighborhoods that were considered “Type A,” or desirable, were outlined in blue and often included white suburbs. Neighborhoods that were labeled “Type D” were outlined in red and often included African American neighborhoods. Redlining was outlawed in the Fair Housing Act of 1968, but some organizations today are still accused of the practice.




blockbusting2. Blockbusting

Blockbusting was a practice that began in the early part of the 20th century and peaked mid-century. Blockbusting happened when real estate agents persuaded white homeowners to sell their homes for less than they were worth. Real estate agents convinced white homeowners that the value of their homes would go down because non-white people (usually African Americans) were in the process of moving into the neighborhood. These blockbusting real estate agents would then sell the vacated property for much more than it was worth to racial minorities. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited the practice of blockbusting, but the practice continued into the 1980s.





NIMBY stands for “Not In My Backyard.” The term refers to negative attitudes and feelings many people have about changes to their community. Affordable housing and supportive housing often arouse what is called “NIMBYism.” Some oppose the development of affordable housing in their area because they believe that it will lead to an increase in crime and violence, and/or that their property value will decrease.