The Answer

An illustration of a headshot that has racially loaded terms enscribed on it. Surrounding the tombstone are reasons why these terms should not be used.The Answer is a one-page response to questions many of our readers find themselves being asked over and over, whether by colleagues, potential partners, funders, policymakers, or the public. It’s easy to download and print and it’s free to distribute with our credit on it. We want to hear how you are using The Answer, and also to get your suggestions for other questions to address: let us know about both at theanswer@shelterforce.org.

Q: Who Enforces CRA?

Why are there three different agencies enforcing the Community Reinvestment Act, or CRA? Who does each agency enforce it on?

Q: What Do All These Rent Regulation Terms Mean?

As rents have been rising, organizing for rent regulations have gained steam. However, the terms used to describe rent regulations can be unclear.

Q: Did Extending More Credit to Subprime Borrowers Cause the Foreclosure Crisis?

There are people who believe that the foreclosure crisis occurred because too many unqualified borrowers became homeowners. What actually happened was ...

Q: Is Rental Housing a Rural Issue?

Yes! Although homeownership rates are higher in rural areas, there is still a significant rural population that needs rental housing.

Q: Can Including Rent and Utility Payments in Credit Scores Reduce Racial Disparities in...

Including rent and utility payments in credit reports and scoring models can increase credit scores, and reduce racial disparities in credit scores.
Does Airbnb Cause Rents to Increase? Yes it does. This graphic explains how.

Q: Does Airbnb Cause Rents to Increase?

A: Yes! Since hosts can make 50 to 200 percent more on short-term rentals than on long-term rentals, Airbnb affects purchase prices as well.

Q: Can Nonprofits Get Out the Vote?

A. Yes! Nonprofits are often uncertain about what they can legally do, but they can get out the vote among their residents, clients, and staff.

Q: Can Prohibiting Source-of-Income Discrimination Help Voucher Holders?

A: Yes. Currently landlords in most places can discriminate against voucher holders, and many do. For example: An African-American female tester using a voucher was denied...
We ask: What don't people who are getting rental assistance get a job? The Answer: More than half are elderly or disabled. Of the rest, most of them do have a job!

Q: Why Don’t People Who Get Rental Assistance Get a Job?

A: More than half are elderly or disabled. Of the rest, most of them do have a job! Ninety-four percent of rental assistance receipts are ...
Q: Can Support Community Development Improve Outcomes for the Health Sector? Yes! Over 50 percent of premature deaths in the U.S. can be attributed to preventable non-medical factors, specifically behavioral, environmental, and social conditions. Graphic of a home and all the areas that community development helps with health outcomes. Image links to PDF version of The Answer.

Q: Can Supporting Community Development Improve Outcomes for the Health Sector?

Yes! Over 50 percent of premature deaths in the U.S. can be attributed to preventable non-medical factors, specifically behavioral, environmental, and social conditions.
A graphic for Shelterforce's, "The Answer." This time, we ask: Do rent regulations make the housing crisis worse?

Q: Do Rent Regulations Make the Housing Crisis Worse?

A: No! Despite common fears, decades of evidence shows that rent regulation doesn't restrict housing supply and quality. Feel free to print and distribute! Click...
An illustration of a headshot that has racially loaded terms enscribed on it. Surrounding the tombstone are reasons why these terms should not be used.

Q: Is It Time to Bury Racially Loaded Planning and Development Terms?

Shelterforce has gathered some racially loaded terms that are common in our field. We suggest you use these sparingly and carefully, if at all.
What Do All These Housing Affordability Terms Mean?

Q: What Do All These Housing Affordability Terms Mean?

While we use terms like "affordable housing," "moderate income," "housing poverty," and "area median income" often, we thought it'd be helpful to explain what all these housing affordability terms mean. Make sure you're using these 19 terms correctly.

Q: Is scattered-site rehab always more expensive than new construction?

A: No! A long-running program in Philadelphia is showing that scattered site rehab can be cheaper and have a larger revitalizing effect at the same time.

Q: Do economic development incentives support small businesses?

A. Not very much. Despite the claims of many states, when you look at the numbers, the vast majority of taxpayer dollars directed to economic development go to big corporations.

Q: Why don’t low-income families save?

A. Actually they do! However, they tend to be saving for the short term, rather than the long term.

Q: What’s the difference between community economic development and traditional economic development ?

A: A lot! In fact, they are so different that the Democracy Collaborative, which made the chart below, has coined the term “community wealth building” to set apart the truly community-oriented practitioners of economic development.
Four charts and graphs illustrate how foreclosure rates are still higher than they were pre-crisis, and how recovery is slower in some neighborhoods. Image links to pdf version.

Q: Isn’t the foreclosure crisis over?

A: Not for everyone. Even after significant recovery, most of the country still has record high levels of . . .
A simple drawing of a balanced scale has a blue house labeled "before inclusionary requirements" on one side and a red house labeled "after inclusionary requirements" on the other side. Text above reads Do inclusionary housing requirements make housing prices go up for everyone else? No! followed by discussion. Image links to pdf version.

Q: Do inclusionary housing requirements make housing prices go up for everyone else?

A: No, they do not. Market-rate developers are business people. They charge as much as the market will bear. When housing prices go up . . .
One pager begins with Q: Do Immigrants “Take Our Jobs”? A: No! This is a common fear, especially for people who are already struggling to get by. But it’s not true. Then it provides references to studies showing economic benefits to immigration. Image links to a pdf version.

Q: Do Immigrants “Take Our Jobs”?

A: No! This is a common fear, especially for people who are already struggling to get by. But it’s not true. Here are the facts: