Puget Sound Regional Council

The Housing Innovations Program is a new collection of planning resources that local governments in the central Puget Sound region can use to promote housing affordability and smart growth in their communities. We welcome your contributions and feedback.

Housing Toolkit

The Toolkit contains profiles of 49 tools, incentives and other strategies for encouraging affordable housing.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is housing affordability important?
    • Housing affordability is central to achieving VISION 2040’s broader goals for a sustainable, economically vibrant region. Despite the substantial decline in national and local home prices as a result of the 2007 financial/housing crisis and ensuing Great Recession, housing affordability is recognized as a continuing issue for many of the region’s residents and communities.


      As of 2010, 42% of the region’s households were considered “housing cost-burdened” or paying more than 30 percent of annual gross income to cover housing costs. The problem is particularly acute for households earning less than 50% of area median income. Affordable workforce housing and homeownership opportunities within reasonable commute distance to the region’s major employment centers remain limited in many neighborhoods and communities.

  • What is “area median income” or “AMI?”
    • Affordable housing is commonly defined in terms of housing costs as a percentage of household income. Housing is considered unaffordable when a household’s monthly housing costs exceed a certain threshold — most commonly 30 percent of gross income — thereby reducing the budget available for other basic necessities and amenities.


      A common measurement of housing affordability compares the number of households in certain income categories to the number of units on the market affordable at 30 percent of gross income. VISION 2040 uses the following household income categories and definitions to track regional housing affordability:


      • Middle: 80%-120% of area median income
      • Moderate: 50%-80% of area median income
      • Low: Below 50% of area median income
      • Very Low: Below 30% area median income


      The Housing Toolkit organizes strategies around two targeted income categories: 80-120% AMI and below 80% AMI.

  • What are “focus areas?”
  • What are “featured tools?”

Puget Sound Regional Council • 1011 Western Ave, Suite 500 • Seattle, WA 98104 • 206-464-7090