In a memo distributed last week, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) released updated income limits and median household income figures for all of the state's 58 counties.

While the state income limits determine eligibility for a variety of programs, including COVID-19 emergency rental assistance, they are perhaps most commonly associated with affordable housing developments.  The 2021 limits for Los Angeles and Orange Counties are as follows:

Los Angeles County income limitsCalifornia Department of Housing and Community Development

Orange County income limitsCalifornia Department of Housing and Community Development

The state uses methodology established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to determine cut-off points for the low-, very low-, and extremely low-income levels.  Broadly speaking, low-income households correspond to those earning 80 percent or less than the area median income, and very low-income households are those making up to 50 percent.  The extremely low-income level is set at 60 percent of the very low-income limit - or approximately 30 percent of the median income level.

However, the formulas used by HUD can offer peculiar results in some high-cost areas, including Los Angeles, where the 2021 low-income limit of $94,600 for a family of four exceeds the countywide median income of $80,000.

HCD uses its own standards for setting California's moderate-income limits - the one level which exceeds the area median.  The maximum moderate income corresponds to 120 percent of a countywide area median income level, with adjustments for family size.

For a detailed breakdown of the criteria used by HCD and HUD, click here.