Purpose – Kish Island is one of the most attractive tourism destinations in Iran and it is becoming an increasingly popular destination for tourism investment. Many people have recently migrated to the island. Thus, one of the housing policies for the island is to maximize the efficiency of residential lands, particularly in providing affordable housing for low-income people. The purpose of this study is to develop social, economical and architectural solutions for affordable housing design and overcome related problems using adapted vernacular solutions. Design/methodology/approach – The methodology of this study involved identifying the research problem, followed by formatting the research framework, reviewing the comprehensive literature and documenting the concepts of affordable housing and vernacular architecture. Therefore, an affordable house design methodology was used to develop vernacular architecture to minimize cost and environmental impacts, while maximizing the social acceptability in housing projects for low-income earners in Kish Island. Section A in Mir Mohanna, which is the most important residential centre for the low-income people, was used as the study area in this research. Findings – The results of this study clarified that the houses in Section A in Mir Mohanna did not meet the criteria of affordable housing and people’s needs. Hence, some suggestions for affordable housing would certainly contribute towards formulating all these, including housing policy to be implemented on Kish Island. Originality/value – The current paper was an attempt to find strategies for guiding the appropriate process of developing affordable housing on the basis of vernacular architecture for the country and other similar places. It is hoped that the recommendations might increase more regulated housing development and housing policies on Kish Island.