Shelterforce Resource

Explainers

Housing and community development can be complex, and no one is an expert on every corner of it. Even the experts sometimes have trouble breaking down what they know for others. Shelterforce explainers will help you introduce yourself to new topics, and to explain key points and frequently asked questions to others. Have a topic you’d like covered in an explainer? Send it to [email protected]

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A poster: Q: What Does "Community Benefit" Mean? A: This term means different things to people in the health sector and the community development or organizing sectors, which can get confusing. Two sections of text titled "Hospital Community Benefit Requirement" and "Community Benefits Agreements," with clip art to illustrate. Image links to PDF version
Housing

Q: What Does ‘Community Benefit’ Mean?

A: This term means different things to people in the health sector and the community development or organizing sectors, which can get confusing.

Q: What Are the Three Major Types of Community- or Resident-Controlled Housing and How Do they Work? Brief descriptions of cooperative, community land trust, and mutual housing association with clip art illustrations. Image links to PDF version.
Affordability

Q: What Are the Three Major Types of Community- or Resident-Controlled Housing and How Do They Work?

There’s a lot of momentum toward resident-controlled housing. Do you know the three major forms it takes?

Affordability

LIHTC for Regular People

The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit is famously complex. We can’t exactly make it simple, but we’ve broken down the basics, especially those that residents of a LIHTC property might want to know, as clearly as possible.

Transparent check mark over compliance related icons and words handwritten on white papers
Affordability

How Are LIHTC Rules Enforced—And How Well?

LIHTC developers must follow strict affordability rules—and fulfill other promises—for at least 30 years. While industry insiders insist compliance rates are high, tenant advocates say noncompliance is a real problem.

Fair Housing

What Is Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing?

Shelterforce has put together a short video to explain what “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing,” or AFFH, means, and the history of its enforcement.

An illustration highlighting the 6 policies tenants are fighting for, including good cause eviction, right to habitability, right to counsel, rent regulation, tenant opportunity to purchase, and right to organize.
Organizing

Tenant Protections 101

Tenant advocates have long been pushing for a “tenants bill of rights” to codify rules that protect renters from landlords. Here’s a rundown of the top protections housing justice activists say need to be included.

An illustration showing the word "financialization" in a bubble.
Financialization

What Is the Financialization of Housing?

It’s a wonky term with real-life consequences. At its most basic level, the “financialization of housing” means treating a home like a financial asset first, and a place to live second. But there are many more perspectives.

Graphic: Would more housing vouchers increase rents: A: Probably not. Cartoon illustrations show man and woman doing lab tests. Image links to pdf version
Housing

Q: Would More Housing Vouchers Increase Rents?

A: So far, researchers haven’t found that an increase in vouchers by itself causes rents to rise.

Homeownership

ADUs: Defined, Disambiguated, and Debated

Accessory dwelling units are being touted as a way to provide more affordable rental units for tenants, and additional monthly income for homeowners. But some cities allow them, others don’t. So what are ADUs exactly?

What’s an Accessory Dwelling Unit?

The cost of housing has skyrocketed across the United States. As a response, some states and localities have legalized accessory dwelling units in hopes of expanding the supply of affordable housing. But what are ADUs?

Community Development Field

Alphabet Soup: Breaking Down All Those Housing and Community Development Terms

Confused by the acronyms and initials dotting your reading material? All fields have them, and housing is no exception. Here’s what many of the most common mean.

Housing

What Is NIMBYism and How Do Affordable Housing Developers Respond to It?

NIMBYism is often expressed as concerns about crime, congestion, schools, property values, and “quality of life.” But when developments are built these fears rarely come to pass.

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