Continuum of Housing

The Continuum of Housing recognizes that a variety of affordable housing programs are needed to address affordable housing needs along the continuum — from homelessness to homeownership and each step in between. One size does not fit all. The Continuum in the District of Columbia is made up of the following programs:

Supportive Housing. 

Supportive housing is provided to residents with little to no income and a need for specialized services.

  • Emergency Shelter, Supportive Rental Housing, Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Housing, Transitional Housing, and Assisted-Living Housing are the different types of housing offered in this area. A good example is DC’s Permanent Supportive Housing Program which provides housing and case management services to chronically homeless individuals and families.
  • This type of housing typically can be offered to residents with no incomes, and is often made available to residents who make no more than 50 percent of area median income (roughly $50,000 a year for a family of four).

Assisted Rental Housing.

Assisted rental housing is typically provided to low-to-moderate income residents, but does not typically come with specialized services.

  • This type of housing falls into two main categories: public housing and privately-owned/assisted rental housing. Public housing is built and managed by the federal government. Privately owned/assisted rental housing units are owned by private for-profit and not-for-profit developers and/or private landlords.
  • These units are subsidized. Assistance is given to help cover the gap between the market cost of the unit and what the low-to-moderate income resident can pay. Typically this is no more than 30 percent of their income. The privately owned units can receive assistance from either housing voucher programs (ongoing rental subsidy) or programs that help provide financing to construct the affordable housing. Two examples of financing assistance are the low-income housing tax credit program and the Housing Production Trust Fund.
  • This type of housing is typically offered to residents with incomes between 30 percent of area median income (roughly $30,000 a year for a family of four) and 80 percent of area median income (roughly $80,000 for a family of four).

Assisted Homeownership.

Assisted homeownership is provided to low-and moderate-income homebuyers in DC.

  • The flagship DC program is the Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP) which provides low- and no-interest loans to low-income first-time homebuyers. In addition, the District also provides assistance to tenants who want to exercise their “first right of purchase” rights and purchase their building when the owner offers it for sale. The District also provides tax exemptions and shared-equity land banks to help lower the costs of homeownership.
  • Assisted homeownership programs are typically provided to residents with incomes between 50 percent of area median income and 120 percent of area median income ($50,000 to $120,000 for a family of four).
Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development’s report:  An Affordable Continuum of Housing — Key to a Better City, available at