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: 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.

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:
One-pager starts with Do inclusionary zoning requirements halt development? No! After a paragraph citing the research, there is an image of people back-lit on construction scaffolding, surrounded by quotes from public officials about how inclusionary measures have been good for their housing market. Image links to pdf version.

Q: Do inclusionary zoning requirements halt development?

A: No! Research shows that hasn't been the case. And here's what local officials in places that have implemented it had to say . . .
One-pager reads Do Section 8 voucher holders increase crime in a neighborhood? No! Shows two graphs illustrating the point. Image links to pdf version.

Q: Do Section 8 voucher holders increase crime in a neighborhood?

A: No! This is a perennial fear, but research shows that additional voucher holders don't change the crime rate at all. However it does show that . . .
One-pager showing differences between municipal land banks and community land trusts. Image links to pdf version.

Q: Is a land bank the same thing as a land trust?

A: Nope. They are totally different, though complementary tools. This chart will walk you through the differences.
One-pager shows a repeating image of a manufactured home down the center, with myths on the left about why they are bad, and facts on the right. Image links to pdf version.

Q: Are manufactured homes a bad form of affordable housing?

A: Not any more! There are many myths out there about manufactured (or "mobile") homes, but in fact they can be a very important source of quality affordable housing...
A four-person family stands in a maze leading to a house. Around the maze are various answers to the question "Why doesn't the market produce enough affordable housing?" Image links to a pdf version.

Q: Why doesn’t the market produce enough affordable housing where people want it?

A: The market is supposed to meet demand, but the importance of location, location, location, plus other factors, keep this from working for affordable housing.
One-pager starts with "Does affordable housing lower property values? No!" Image shows 56 green document icons, 5 striped, and 1 gray to represent research that found positive, mixed, or negative effects and a map of the United States with dots to represent where those studies took place. Includes citations. Image links to pdf version.

Q: Does affordable housing development lower nearby property values?

A. No. No. No. Is 56 studies enough no for you?
A drawing of a house with a red roof and a red path leading from door is accompanied by text explaining reasons why shared-equity homeownership makes sense in weak-market areas. Image links to pdf version.

Q: What’s the point of shared-equity homeownership in weak market areas?

Shared-equity homeownership is best known as a tool to fight displacement in hot-market areas. But in fact, it has many advantages in weak-market areas too.
Does shared-equity homeownership build assets? Yes. And keeps them safer than traditional homeownership does. Various graphs and charts follow to back up this assertion. Image links to pdf version.

Q: Does shared-equity homeownership build assets?

A: Yes! And keeps them safer than traditional homeownership does.
Did the housing crisis prove that low-income people can't be successful homeowners? No! Infographic follows showing delinquency and foreclosure rates for two at-scale low-income homeownership lending programs, which are below the general population. Image links to pdf version.

Q: Did the housing crisis prove low-income people can’t be successful homeowners?

No! Two at-scale, long-term lending programs show that if the process is done right, low-income homeowners can be as successful as prime borrowers--or more.