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.

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.
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 . . .
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 . . .

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.
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: 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.
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...

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: 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...
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 . . .
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.

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: 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.

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.
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.
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.
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 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:

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.
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?