Understanding Area Median Income and housing 

Glenwood Springs Post Independent news graphic

Area Median Income, also referred to as AMI, is a popular buzzword around the creation of workforce housing, but what is it and how does it affect housing in the future?

AMI is decided by income within a specific region and published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The numbers are decided by the median and not the average because the average would be too disproportionate with an excessively high wage earner. Imagine having a billionaire in your average pool.

The benchmark of 100% AMI sets a household where the median or middle income price sits. Meanwhile, 80% is closer to lower income, 50% is considered very low income, and 30% is extremely low income, according to the HUD guidelines 

The guidelines also stipulate that the average household should not be spending more than 30% of its monthly earnings on housing, whether through a mortgage or renting. 

The term workforce housing refers to individuals or households earning between 80% to 120% AMI.

Recently, the city of Glenwood Springs and Habitat for Humanity hashed out the AMI for a deed restriction agreement involving two property development projects at both Eighth Street and Midland Avenue and the Iddings property by Airport Road. 

The project will add the ability to apply for a deed restriction at a maximum AMI of 80% for a household of four at the Eighth and Midland property.

“Something that Habitat utilizes, as well as some other jurisdictions such as Carbondale, is they price it at the four person 80% AMI or four person level for any of the percentages,” said Hannah Klausman, the Glenwood Springs assistant director of economic and community development. 

So, for the unit on Eighth and Midland, the maximum household income for any size household will be $75,360, she said. That means that a single person can qualify for up to 110% AMI in the Habitat for Humanity housing unit and a couple can qualify for up to 100% AMI in the same unit. 

This is done for a number of reasons, but overall, setting all price points at 80% would price out the single wage earner.

How pricing is deciphered at the $75,360 pricing

“We feel pretty strongly about the 80% because, one, it is that income group that is probably renting for the most part and really can be owners, and they can be owners at a rate and a mortgage, in this instance, and their utility rates well below what they’re paying in rent,” said Gail Schwartz, president of Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork Valley. 

Secondly, they can capitalize on grants that go up to 80% AMI, she said.

The housing project with Habitat for Humanity will only provide 1% of the housing needed in Glenwood Springs, though, with many opportunities in the future to accommodate a higher AMI range.

Many of the AMI ranges for housing in Glenwood Springs and the state offer the ability to qualify for up to 120% AMI, which would offer much more leeway for workforce housing.

Post Independent reporter Cassandra Ballard can be reached at or 970-384-9131.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.