Workforce Housing Lets Middle-Income Earners Live Near Their Jobs

Trellis helps to bring workforce housing to Phoenix

It has become increasingly difficult for middle-income workers to actually live in the areas in which they work. One key factor is the limited supply of housing affordable to these workers, especially here in Phoenix. This forces many middle-income workers move to the outer fringes of a region, leading to longer commute times for the worker, higher levels of traffic, and other negative aspects that affect both the workers and the surrounding areas. In response, local governments have created special zones for “workforce housing.”

The term “Workforce Housing” is becoming increasingly used in affordable housing circles, but what exactly does it mean? The purpose of this article is to provide a definition of Workforce Housing, offer a brief history of its origins in the U.S., and briefly discuss ways municipalities can help stimulate the creation of more Workforce Housing in their communities.


Workforce Housing is a term used in affordable housing circles and is defined as housing affordable to households earning between 60 and 120 percent of area median income (AMI). Workforce housing targets middle-income workers which includes middle-income professions such as police officers, firefighters, teachers, health care workers, retail clerks, etc. Households who need workforce housing may not always meet the income requirements for housing subsidized by the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program or the Housing Choice Vouchers program (formerly known as Section 8), which are two major programs in place for addressing affordable housing needs.

Origins of Workforce Housing

In most of the second half of the twentieth century, housing was affordable to many middle-income workers due to wages remaining relatively correlated with costs of living, and homeownership becoming more affordable through the introduction of the 30-year amortizing mortgage loan. However, during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, incomes began to lag behind rising costs of living, housing supply for middle-income workers grew stagnant, and a drastic need for a new affordable housing program arose, especially in metropolitan areas.

When the production of new housing units severly dropped across the nation during the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009, the ability of middle-income workers to find affordable housing close to work suffered even more. Because traditional affordable housing programs focused on serving households making 60 percent or lower of AMI, middle-income workers were ‌finding little to no housing options available to them. This prompted the creation of workforce housing.

Workforce Housing in Phoenix

Trellis, through our Real Estate Development (RED) team, has been building affordable housing in the Phoenix-metro area for over 45 years. The RED team has built or renovated over 300 units, so far, and plans to complete another 139 units of affordable housing by the end of 2021.

This includes the new, modern townhomes of Trellis@Colter, located on W. Colter Street, between 15th and 19th Avenues. These three-story, two-bedroom townhomes have been zoned as workforce housing. This means that they are priced to be affordable to households earning between 60 and 120 percent of area median income of the area.

To get more information about the Trellis@Colter townhomes or to schedule a tour, please contact our listing brokers – R.O.I. Properties.

Learn more about affordable housing, or any of the other services that Trellis provides by completing and submitting the below form:

Help Trellis Help Others

Did you know that Trellis has helped thousands of people find stable housing in Phoenix? You can help us continue to strengthen communities and provide housing help to the area’s most vulnerable and underserved. Please donate to enable Trellis to deliver financial education, affordable homes, and specialized loan programs in the years to come. Thank you.