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Frequently Asked Questions about Housing Related Issues

Where can I find current census data for a given community?

One good way, if you just want a list of information, is to use the “Fact Sheet” tool in the Census Department’s American FactFinder. It allows you to enter in a city name, county name, zip code, or even street address, and find a long list of census characteristics about that area. Census' Fact Finder

Is there any way I can view socioeconomic, racial, or other census data displayed on a map of a given area?

The U.S. Census Bureau’s website allows you to map many kinds of Census data See: Census Maps.If you want to map a broader range of data or map non-U.S. locations, you might try to get access to GIS software like MapInfo, IDRISIW, Arc/Info, Arc/View, or Arc/GIS. Many of these software packages will be available at your local university.

What is the link between housing and health?

For recent research on this question, please see the PRRAC health webpage.

What is the relationship between housing and welfare receipt?

Because the populations of people receiving welfare and living in subsidized housing overlap significantly, housing can be a good way to provide services to low-income populations, and welfare reform may have an impact on housing programs. For a brief overview of the relationship between housing and welfare reform, see this paper put out by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP): House212. CBPP also has an email listserv about housing and welfare reform. To join, click here.

Where can I find a list of federally funded housing developments in my community?

The easiest way is probably to contact your local Public Housing Authority (PHA). To contact information for PHAs across the country click here.

If you are looking for more general maps of the locations of assisted housing, they are available for certain years from HUD-USER datasets.

Who is eligible to live in public housing or Section 8 housing?

Other than factors such as immigration status and recent criminal record, the main determinant of whether a person or family is eligible to live in any kind of subsidized housing is the person’s/family’s gross annual income. Income limits are based on the median income of a given area; to find the income limit for the area where you live, click here.

Where can I find studies on the effects of public or subsidized housing on property values?

There are a number of bibliographies and/or summaries of such studies available online. Here are just a few:

Property Values
Enterprise Foundation
Housing All

Research institutions like the Joint Center for Housing Studies may also sometimes have new research on these types of topics.

Where can I find reports about ways that the Section 8/Housing Choice voucher program could be improved?

Two good sources for thoughts about the strengths and weaknesses of the Section 8 program are the Congressional testimonies of two housing experts, Margery Austin Turner of the Urban Institute (for testimony click here), and Bruce Katz, Director of the Brookings Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy (for testimony available click here).

Brookings and the Urban Institute have also collaborated on an interesting (and more general) piece about how affordable housing could be reformed, click here

How can I find more information about HOPE VI and about where have HOPE VI grants been awarded?

HOPE VI is an initiative by the federal government to improve and restructure severely distressed public housing. One of the goals of HOPE VI is to reduce concentrations of poverty by encouraging people from varying income levels to live in public housing and putting public housing in less distressed neighborhoods. For more information, see HUD’s website on Hope VI. Information about where HOPE VI grants have been awarded is also available, click here.

Where can I find information about predatory lending?

Predatory lending is a particularly “hot” topic right now, and there is a lot of information available about it on the web. HUD’s website on the topic, with information about how to avoid loan fraud and where to go if you think you have been a victim of predatory lending, click here. The Mortgage Bankers Association has an online Predatory Lending Resource Center, with detailed updates on predatory lending laws around the country: Predatory Lending. For information about reverse mortgage fraud see this fact sheet.

How can I find information on programs to promote home ownership?

HUD has a significant amount of information on its website about homeownership programs. HUD-USER also has a guide to Internet resources on homeownership.

What is the difference between Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac?

Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac all do substantially the same thing: work in the secondary mortgage market to improve homeownership opportunities for low-, moderate- and middle-income families. The biggest differences between the organizations have to do with their relationships to the federal government and how they were created. Ginnie Mae is the lending arm of HUD, and its securities and mortgages are backed by the federal government. The government’s backing of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, on the other hand, is perceived rather than real. Fannie Mae originally operated under governmental control but was fully privatized in 1970. Freddie Mac is also a private company; it was chartered by Congress in 1970.

For more information, see:

“About Ginnie Mae”

Fannie Mae

Freddie Mac

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