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Questioning stereotypes about US site-based subsidized housing

Robert Mark Silverman (Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University at Buffalo – South Campus, Buffalo, New York, USA)
Kelly L. Patterson (School of Social Work, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA)
Chihuangji Wang (Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University at Buffalo – South Campus, Buffalo, New York, USA)

International Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis

ISSN: 1753-8270

Article publication date: 10 August 2020

Issue publication date: 23 June 2021




There is a dearth of basic analysis about how the demographics of residents living in the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) subsidized properties relate to the quality of housing. This research vacuum is often filled by popular stereotypes. This study aims to address this gap by examining the relationship between the demographics of residents and inspection scores.


Two data sources are drawn from the analysis: the 2018 HUD Picture of Subsidized Households database and HUD’s 2018 REAC Public and Multi-Family Housing Inspection Scores. Linear and logistic regression analysis were conducted, and selected data were mapped using GIS software.


The analysis examines the demographics of site-based subsidized properties in relation to inspection scores. In 2018, HUD identified 31,225 traditional public housing and other site-based multi-family properties in its Picture of Subsidized Households database. Residents living in these properties are often stereotyped as a homogeneous group that is predominantly composed of single, minority women with children who are welfare dependent. Similarly, properties are often portrayed as dilapidated, high-rise projects in segregated urban communities. The results from the analysis do not support these stereotypes about HUD-subsidized multi-family properties. By contrast, the results indicate that a diverse group of households lives in HUD-subsidized multi-family properties.


There is a need for scholars, advocates and practitioners to more aggressively challenge the popular stereotypes about site-based subsidized housing. In particular, there is a need for enhanced public scholarship focused on the dissemination of evidence-based research.



Work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by a research grant from the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy at the University at Buffalo.


Silverman, R.M., Patterson, K.L. and Wang, C. (2021), "Questioning stereotypes about US site-based subsidized housing", International Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 613-631.



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