What is Affordable?

Housing is considered affordable when rent or mortgage, plus utilities, is no more than 30% of a household’s gross income. As housing costs have risen dramatically in Arlington and throughout the Washington Metropolitan Area, many people who live and work here can no longer afford adequate housing. The County works to preserve Affordable Housing in the community and to provide rental assistance to help low-income residents afford housing.

Types of Affordable Housing

There are two types of affordable units in Arlington.

  • Committed Affordable Units (CAFs):  These units are guaranteed by agreement with the federal, state, or County Government, or through mechanisms such as tax-exempt financing, to remain affordable to low and moderate income households for a specified period of time; generally 30 to 60 years. Rents in most cases are affordable to households earning 60% or less of the Area Median Income, although some CAFs have rents affordable to households earning up to 80% of median.
  • Market-Rate Affordable Units (MARKs): These units are owned by the private market and tend to have higher monthly rents. Affordability fluctuates with factors impacting housing market conditions, including employment trends, economic stability and basic supply and demand. Rent prices are at 50-60% and 60-80 % of Area Median Income.

The County works to expand the supply of Committed Affordable Units (CAFs) for low-income residents. There are more than 6,500 CAFs in 70+ apartment complexes located throughout Arlington, nearly 15 percent of all apartments in the County. In fiscal year 2012, the County added 293 units, including 292 rentals and 1 owner unit. This raised the total CAF rental supply to 6,585 units. The County has an affordable housing target of adding 400 CAFs per year.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates median family incomes each year, and these determine eligibility limits for affordable housing units. View the current income and rent limits for Committed Affordable Units in Arlington.

Average Rents in Arlington County 

Because Arlington is a desirable community, there is a high demand for housing; this affects the availability and affordability of rental units. The County’s overall vacancy rate for apartments was 3.8% in 2014.

Average rents 2014:

    Average rents — all apartments
 Efficiencies One- bedrooms Two-bedrooms Three-bedrooms
 $1,313  $1,678  $2,114  $2,671


    Average rents — garden apartments
 Efficiencies One- bedrooms Two-bedrooms Three-bedrooms
 $1,170  $1,301  $1,603  $2,176


    Average rents — elevator buildings
 Efficiencies One- bedrooms Two-bedrooms Three-bedrooms
 $1,362  $1,907  $2,557  $2,999


  • A 2014 housing survey found a total of 46,893 rental units in the county; this is a net increase of 1,532 units over 2013.