Several people have already said some of this – but I spent a few minutes synthesizing it
all into a summary. So here it is:
Low-income, moderate-income, etc., are pegged to a multiple of Area Median Income for any
housing or HUD program.
Low-income, moderate-income, etc., could instead be pegged to a multiple of the poverty
line for HHS, US DOT, and most other programs.
If one is using the multiples of Area Median Income:
* Importantly, every metro area has its own distinct level of Area Median Income,
determined by analysts at HUD.
* Low-income (generally) means households with a household income <= 50% of AMI.
Moderate-income (generally) means income 51-80% of AMI.
* * I say “generally” because there are some minor and nuanced exceptions when HUD
sets the metro-specific affordability cut-offs.
* The low- and moderate-income bands have a sliding scale varying with household
* Data: HUD, working with Census, publishes “CHAS” estimates of households (and
housing units) in each income band (or affordability band).
Geographic units: counties, county subdivisions (aka MCDs), places, and tracts.
* “CHAS” estimates do not include population counts. It would be possible to join
the CHAS household estimates with ACS average household sizes, then calculate “pop in
households” – but if population is the metric you prefer, it’s easier to instead use ACS
tables concerning income bands (C17002, B17024, B17026) – see below.
If one is using the multiples of the poverty line
* The poverty schedule is the same nationwide; does not vary by metro or state.
* In the Mpls-St Paul metro area*, low-income means people or families with a family
income <= 185% of the poverty line. Moderate-income means income 186% to 300% of the
* * Your metro area might set the thresholds differently. We have set the
thresholds as we have because, for the Mpls-St Paul metro 300% of poverty is roughly
equivalent to 80% of AMI (moderate-income); 185% of poverty is roughly 50% of AMI
(low-income); and 100% of poverty line (officially poor) is roughly 30% of AMI (extremely
* The poverty line has a sliding scale varying with family size. So, in Census’s
American Community Survey, every family and every person case is classified to an income
band using the sliding scale.
* Data: ACS tables (C17002, B17024, B17026) present population in each income band.
Hope that helps.
Principal Forecaster | Metropolitan Council | Regional Policy and Research
Phone 651.602.1322 | Fax 651.602.1674
390 North Robert Street | St. Paul, MN 55101 |
From: Weinberger Penelope <pweinberger(a)aashto.org>
Sent: Wednesday, January 29, 2020 12:58 PM
Subject: [CTPP] FW: Question Regarding Mapping Low Income Population by Census Tract
Hey CTPPers, I received this query, I welcome your thoughts.
We are currently looking at environmental justice factors on Urban Arterials in the Denver
Metro area, and I was wondering if you might have any insights into mapping low income
population by census tract. The only data I have been able to find includes low and
moderate income (from HUD), and I am having trouble even finding that data at the tract
level. Do you know of a good data source for this? Any help or insights would be greatly