Uncovering surprising public housing incomes

When most people think of public housing, they think of families living in poverty, unable to support themselves or provide housing for themselves or their families.

In Albany, however, that may not be the case. FOX 31 requested a list of the incomes for every single tenant in Albany public housing and we found 13 tenants that bring in over $40,000 a year. The highest of those brings in $59,226 a year.

FOX 31 spoke to Dan McCarthy, the director of the Albany-Dougherty Housing Authority who explained their application process and justified those high incomes. McCarthy said when all of those people or families applied if their incomes were that high they would not have been approved. He says there incomes had to have increased after they were approved and living in one of the units. According to the law, McCarthy says they aren't able to evict anyone just because they have a high income. What they can do is encourage them to go elsewhere.

A few years back there was a rule that made the rent 30% of your income, when the income, and thus rent, got too high, people were obviously encouraged to move out. That's not the case anymore though, once the rent gets to a certain amount there's a flat rate. McCarthy says they're going to have to re-look at this policy.

McCarthy admitted that he was surprised when he first saw this list; he didn't think there were that many with that high of incomes. He did explain that the tenant making a little over $59,000 a year just recently got a job and was bringing in disability payments, once those payments run out (now that the tenant is employed) her income will go back down to just what she's making from her job.

McCarthy said the average rent for those living in public housing is $115, of course there are some that pay more and some that don't pay any at all (if they have no income.) Rent doesn't encompass things like utilities or cable, McCarthy says most residents are responsible for their own utilities and whatever extra services they have.

Right now the Albany Housing Authority has 3,024 individuals on their waiting list; McCarthy says unfortunately there are some that will never receive public housing.

Total Household Income by Range







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