Looking for Rental Housing
There are two types of below market housing enforced by the City of Berkeley. One type of housing is one where the building is primarily low income (“Affordable Housing”), and usually owned by nonprofit organizations that have a mission to provide affordable housing. The other type is below market rate units that are located within market rate housing (“BMR”). BMR units are required by the City’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance and are typically owned by for-profit companies. Both are explained in more detail below and have contact numbers.
Both types of housing units are owned by private organizations, and the City monitors compliance to ensure the properties are rented to low-income households.
The City does not operate any housing, accept applications, track vacancies, or maintain waiting lists. Anyone interested in affordable housing in Berkeley must contact the owners or property managers directly.
Affordable Housing Projects
There are about 1600 units among 46 affordable housing projects. Below are the organizations who own the properties and can answer questions about vacancies, eligibility for specific properties and how to apply.
Below Market Inclusionary Housing (BMR)
Under the City of Berkeley’s Inclusionary Housing and Affordable Housing Mitigation Ordinance, property owners of market-rate rental housing developments must set aside a percentage of the units for very low and low-income households. These units are available at below-market rate (BMR) rents to eligible applicants who meet the required income limits under the program.
To date, there are 26 properties in Berkeley offering 390 BMR units to very low and low-income households. The following link lists the organizations who own the properties and can answer questions about vacancies, eligibility for specific properties, and how to apply.
List of BMR Properties
Am I Eligible?
Affordable Housing projects are funded by many different State, Federal, and local funders. Each funder has its own income and rent limits. The eligibility for BMR units is established by the City. The income and rent limits are different for every apartment, depending on the combination of applicable requirements, but the typical limits for both Affordable Housing and BMR units are shown in the table below. Some of the income and rent limits are based on household size as shown below and some are based on unit size. In general, the chart shows the typical income and rent range for both types of units. Again, each property and each apartment is different, so you must call each owner to find out the rent and income limits for a specific apartment.
|Range of Common Income Limits
|Range of Common Rent Limits
||$914 - $1,580
BMR units have additional eligibility requirements. To be eligible for a BMR unit, you must meet the following criteria:
• Reside in the BMR unit at least 10 months of the year as the household’s permanent, sole residence.
• Occupy the unit as his/her sole, permanent residence within 60 days of lease execution.
• Have no ownership interest in any residence, either as an investment or alternate domicile.
• Have a member of the household who is legally able to execute contracts (i.e., is at least 18 years old)
• Document that the Head of Household, including full-time students, cannot be claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax returns.
• Demonstrate that no employment relationship with the property owner or property management company exists.
How to apply for housing?
To apply to either 100% affordable housing or BMR units,
1. Contact each property of interest to find out about the application process and how to get on the waiting list for a specific property. The City of Berkeley does not process applications or maintain a waiting list for the BMR or Affordable Housing units.
2. As part of the rental application, provide the owner / property management company with required income documents so that owner can review whether you meet the income and other eligibility requirements. The owner / property management company may ask for additional information to evaluate your ability to pay rent and your rental history.
3. For BMR units: If the owner determines you are eligible for the City’s BMR program, the owner will forward your application to the City of Berkeley for review and approval. The City has 5-7 days to review the application. Upon receiving City approval of the application, the owner may offer you a unit and execute a lease.
4. For Affordable Housing units: The owner/property manager will let you know if you are eligible and offer you a unit or place you on the waiting list.
What happens after I move in?
If you live in an apartment with income and rent restrictions, you will be required to do certain things to keep your housing:
• Income Certification: You must certify your income annually. The owner or property manager will require you to sign forms certifying your income and household size or you may have to provide income documentation such as pay stubs, taxes, and asset information.
• Physical Inspections: You must allow the owner/property manager or government agencies to come into your unit and conduct inspections. This may or may not happen every year. You will receive a notice in advance when the inspection will take place. This is for your protection because inspections will ensure that the property is being taken care and no code violations exist.
Other Affordable Housing in Berkeley and the Surrounding Communities
In Alameda County, people seeking housing or community services can call 2-1-1 for information. 2-1-1 is a free, non-emergency, confidential, 3-digit phone number and service that provides easy access to housing information, and critical health and human services. 2-1-1 operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with multi-lingual capabilities. If you are outside Alameda County, call 888-886-9660. For help in San Francisco, San Mateo County or Marin County, call 800-273-6222.
Some of 211's housing listings, including those in Berkeley, are available on the Housing Choices for Alameda County web site ( http://achousingchoices.org/ ). Other information for your search is available here.
Rental listings for private property owners and managers
Nonprofit organizations making housing referrals
Subsidized housing for seniors
Berkeley Housing Authority