The term ‘workforce housing” is used in a number of ways that can be misleading. Generally it can mean any housing occupied by persons who make their living through earnings from employment, which applies to the full range of income levels. Some workforce housing programs target households with incomes ranging from 60% or 80% of area median income (AMI) to 120% of AMI.
The term can be misleading -- some would say even insulting
-- because many earners in households with incomes below 60% or 80% of AMI are part of the workforce.
Apart from the issue of the term itself, “workforce housing" often refers to housing for persons who are just above the income limits for federal or State affordable housing programs, but who are struggling to find housing in the private market. Who is included varies by location and the dynamics of the housing market at any particular time.
Generally public funding for “workforce housing” is more limited than for affordable housing. While that is the case in Massachusetts, there is one program offered by the Department of Housing and Community Development called the Workforce Housing Initiative, which includes more than $100 million in its Workforce Housing fund, which supports the creation of rental housing that is affordable for households whose incomes are too high for subsidized housing but are priced out by market rents. The program supports housing with rents affordable to individuals and families with incomes generally between 60% and 120% of Area Median Income (AMI) and provides up to $100,000 of subsidy per workforce housing unit. Such a program by itself, however, cannot match the multiple sources of funding available for affordable housing.