Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



While the housing problem in the United States has changed since Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed that "one-third of the nation is ill-housed," it has by no means disappeared. For most low-income people, and to a lesser extent for moderate income people, housing still presents formidable problems.

Academics and housing analysts recognize four major aspects of the housing problem: affordability (ratio of housing costs to income), adequacy (including quality and overcrowding), neighborhood conditions, and availability. Over the past decade, the nature of the country's housing problem has undergone some important transformations.

Until ten years ago the phrase "housing problem" conjured up images of low quality housing and overcrowded conditions that were principally the concern of low-income and minority people. By the late 1970s, however, a new aspect of the housing problem-affordability-had become fixed in the American consciousness. Since that time there has been general agreement among housing analysts that the burden of housing costs relative to income has gotten worse, while overall quality has improved. Although blacks and other minorities have benefited from these improvements, their housing situations remain considerably worse than those of the general population.


Research Report No. 2


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