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Some U.S. cities want housing assistance for six-figure families

Portland, in the U.S. state of Maine, is one of a half-dozen American cities urging developers to set aside units for middle-income households. (T. Markley/

Who is “affordable housing” for? That’s becoming a harder question to answer in cities with skyrocketing housing costs.

Laura Kusisto and Jon Kamp report for the Wall Street Journal that some American cities are setting aside affordable apartments for families with combined incomes above $100,000 per year.

The idea that people in this wage bracket would need rental assistance underscores how expensive it’s become to either rent or own a home in major U. S. metropolitan areas. New York, San Francisco and Portland, Maine are among at least six U. S. cities encouraging developers to make units available for “middle-income” households.

The needs of this demographic are often overlooked, Kusisto and Kamp explain. Federal subsidies target low-income renters, while developers seeking to recoup construction costs increasingly favor luxury units. Still, critics say that assistance should be reserved for the poorest.

In Cambridge, a city just outside Boston, a lottery was recently held for 15 apartments with “below-market” rents, the article says. Families of four with combined incomes just above $118,000 were eligible to apply. The city is home to two prestigious universities and several high-tech companies, factors fueling an increase in housing costs.

Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

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