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Affordable housing and public housing are two key long-term solutions to fix the nation’s housing shortage. Georgia, as one of the fastest-growing states in the country, faces the challenge of guaranteeing its residents access to a safe, decent, and affordable housing option.

Housing is deemed one of the main drivers for reducing intergenerational poverty and increasing economic mobility. This is why these two types of housing can tackle this pressing problem for low-income families, “the missing middle”, veterans, senior members, and people living with disabilities all across the country by giving them access to affordable and quality homes. Keep reading to learn how to differentiate between affordable and public housing.

What Is Affordable Housing?

Affordable housing refers to housing that is priced within the means of low- to moderate-income individuals and families. It is an option for those struggling to afford market-rate housing due to their income levels.

The main objective of affordable housing is to ensure that people have access to safe, decent, and affordable homes, regardless of their financial situation.

Individuals and families who meet certain income thresholds, as defined by the applicable programs and regulations, are eligible for affordable housing. These income limits factor in family size, geographic location, and the specific program or funding source. In Georgia, authorities established that housing is considered affordable when housing expenses do not exceed 30% of a household’s total annual gross income.

Affordable housing programs often prioritize households with the greatest need, such as extremely low-income families, veterans, seniors, and individuals with disabilities.

What Is Public Housing?

Public housing is a housing assistance program established to offer suitable and secure rental housing options for eligible low-income families, the elderly, and people living with disabilities. It encompasses a range of housing units, varying in size and type, from scattered single-family houses to high-rise apartments specifically designed for elderly families.

The public housing criteria are based on the household’s annual gross income, immigration status, and if the applicant qualifies as elderly, a person living with a disability, or a family member of the petitioners.

Understanding the Differences Between Affordable Housing and Public Housing

Now that we have laid out the main characteristics and purposes of affordable housing and public housing, we can break down the differences between these two different types of housing. Here are the most important ones:

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Ownership and Management

Affordable Housing

Owned and managed by a variety of entities, including private developers, nonprofit organizations, or public-private partnerships.

Public Housing

Owned and managed by local Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) that are specifically created to administer this type of program.

Housing Options and Units

Affordable Housing

With a broader range of housing options, this type of housing can include rental apartments, townhouses, single-family homes, or condominiums. The availability of affordable housing units can vary based on the specific program and location.

Public Housing

These units are exclusively designated for low-income households and may include specialized options for seniors or people living with a disability.


Affordable Housing

The rent structure has three options: the rates can be based on income, they can be fixed, or they can be determined by the market.

Public Housing

The rent is typically set at an affordable level based on the household’s income, and it is often calculated as a percentage of the household’s income—usually around 30%.

Regulations and Oversight

Affordable Housing

While it is also subject to certain regulations, affordable housing may have more flexibility in terms of regulations and oversight, depending on the specific funding sources and ownership structure.

Public Housing

PHAs and the federal government oversee this type of housing, which abides by specific regulations. These regulations ensure compliance with quality standards, tenant rights, and fair housing practices.

Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

Tenants in both affordable and public housing are entitled to certain rights and are expected to fulfill specific responsibilities. Here are some of the most important ones that maintain a positive living environment.

Protection Against Discrimination

Tenants have the right to be free from discrimination based on factors such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or familial status. This protection is provided under federal fair housing laws.

Lease Agreements

The lease agreement should outline the terms and conditions of their tenancy. The lease agreement needs to include the rent amount, payment schedule, lease duration, maintenance responsibilities, and any specific rules or policies of the housing program.

Repairs and Maintenance

Tenants have the right to reside in a safe and habitable dwelling. It is the responsibility of the landlord or housing authority to maintain the premises in good condition, address repairs, and check that utilities are working properly.

Privacy and Security

Landlords and housing authorities must respect tenants’ privacy and cannot enter the rental unit without proper notice, except in cases of emergencies or when mutually agreed upon.

Are you seeking a housing community that values professionalism, innovation, and a commitment to the well-being of its residents? Hinesville Housing Authority is ready to welcome you into a family environment that fosters growth and nurtures a sense of belonging. Our dedicated staff, who genuinely care about serving others, is ready to give all Liberty County, Georgia, residents access to market-rate, secure workforce housing options. Contact us today to explain our program and services.