Your Housing Questions Answered

Last Updated: November 6, 2022

We underestimated how many housing questions would come in through the Contact Us feature of the website.  We understand that many things you wonder about may be personal, but if and when you have a situation about finding or keeping a home that you can share anonymously with everyone in the world, here's the place to ask.

Near the bottom of this page, you will find a form that you can use to send us your question, as well as links to what others have asked.

brick three-bedroom ranch houseAn example of housing questions we receive is this: What happens when the little three-bedroom ranch like this one is no longer affordable or desirable in our community?

When you our website visitors ask a question, we do our best to provide a down-to-earth but professional answer based on the experience of the four of us urban planners who write for this platform. With housing prices going through the roof right now, as evidenced by rapidly escalating mortgage rates and skyrocketing rents, we expect that many more of you will find yourself in financial predicaments about where to live.

On the other hand, we are seeing local governments we have been working with becoming much more receptive to ways to restore housing affordability in their communities. Our consulting clients have become much more open to solutions such as accessory dwelling units, cluster housing, and urban community land trusts. You might have questions about some of these newer approaches to expanding the housing supply, building in more environmentally sustainable ways, or keeping the costs of home ownership down.

We hear questions about being a landlord, a real estate investor, a homeowner, and a tenant renting from a private landlord or a government subsidized program. 


Why the Importance of Answering Your Housing Questions Transcends Individual Household Needs

The overall condition of the housing in a community, and the arrangement of those homes within a street hierarchy, business districts, employment centers, and open spaces, determines a fairly large proportion of the success of any community.

Given that in most towns and cities residential use is by far the most prevalent land use, the role of housing as central to community development is solidified. Without a solid image of desirable housing and successful marketing of your neighborhoods, your chances of economic success as a community are much lower. In smaller towns and rural communities, you simply cannot attract the businesses that provide employments, goods, and services without decent choices of places to live.

Our own pet theory is that we place more weight on perceptions that we can understand, and almost all of us can relate to places to live that are common in our area.  From the community perspective, it's worth major attention to the appearance and functionality of your housing stock.

What do we mean?  Well, would anyone whose economic circumstances allowed options want to live in a particular neighborhood?  Are certain characteristics of the homes culturally obsolete?  For example, Americans want closets and garages, and it's hard to talk them into sacrificing those amenities.

Young people living in European town centers or old towns would be equally hard to convince that a house isolated on a cul-de-sac, featuring a garage that is closer to street than the front door, would be a desirable place to live.

Some cities and regions are experiencing either an outright severe housing shortage, or a large mismatch between the housing that is available and the amounts that households can afford to pay either to own a home or rent. If you need to research this in order to prove a point, in the U.S. the Census Bureau does a good job of compiling aggregate information about housing units.  We detail how to get started with obtaining that data on the neighborhood demographics page.

We find that housing questions are not necessarily unique to a homebuyer or a renter. Weird difficulties in trying to obtain clear title, ambiguities between the common law idea of what is a nuisance and the diminishing legal definition of nuisances in most jurisdictions, and disputes when buying or renting a home are commonplace.

Real estate development, subdivision platting, and construction of government-subsidized units in the U.S. and most other places has proceeded in waves of activity, so it's likely that your difficulty pertains to many more folks in your area.

So check out the invitation below to ask your housing questions.  It will be fine to leave your name and location blank if you wish. If we publish your question and our answer, which we will if your question is understandable to others, a new web page results, and you can use it in social media if you like.


Do You Have A Question about Housing?

Would you like to ask the other visitors and/or the editors a question? Here's your place to ask and then watch for an answer and comments to appear.

Other Questions and Answers

Click below to see contributions from other visitors, and answers.

What is a capital stack in community development? 
Visitor Question: I'm on a committee the mayor appointed to look into what we need to do to get more moderately priced housing built in our little city. …

Does a foreclosure void a deed? 
Visitor Question: It looks like a friend of mine is headed toward foreclosure. He hasn't been able to pay his mortgage regularly since this epidemic …

What are the rules for an eviction 
Visitor Queston: I'm the new director of a struggling neighborhood organization. This past week I had two questions about how an eviction happens, one …

What is abolitionist housing policy 
Visitor Question: Last night I attended my second meeting as a member of the city's community development advisory board. One woman is quite knowledgeable, …

Do housing codes violate civil rights 
Visitor Question: It seems like many housing codes are very restrictive about what my neighbors and me can and cannot do on our own property. The housing …

How to get more fixed income housing built 
Visitor Question: My mom, Edith Metzger Booser, organized a team in Middletown PA which succeeded in changing a junk yard into a lovely high-rise apartment …

Residential care zoning laws 
Visitor Question: I'm trying to become a licensed caregiver. When I went to my local office to receive a zoning letter, they were taking their time about …

Funds to fix up an abandoned house 
Visitor Question: We found an abandoned house that's in not too bad of shape. The former owners left quite a bit of junk. It's a really good price. I …

Too Many Apartments and Group Homes 
Visitor Question: Our County and City have repeatedly put sober living homes, homes for the previously chronically homeless and mentally ill along with …

Homeless Person Unable to Save for Permanent Housing 
Visitor Question: I am a homeless recovering addict that is bettering my life, but do not even know where to begin in my search for housing. I am currently …

1960s Rental Unit Found Unpermitted 
Visitor Question: Hello there, I currently live in a downstairs unit of a duplex in an unincorporated area of our county. Long story short, the …

Must Screened Porches Be Clean 
Visitor Question: Can I be told I have to clean up my screened-in porch? Editors’ Reply: Yes, both your neighbors and your homeowners’ association, …

Code Enforcement Letter Received 
Visitor Question: We received a letter which was a fill-in-the-blanks city code violation form that says we have 10 days to get started and 30 days …

Saving Abandoned House from Demolition 
Visitor Question: Hi. My in-laws have been taking care of the house next to them for the last 15 years, as in keeping the yard mowed and trimmed. This …

Can CDCs have employees 
Are community development corporations allowed to hire employees? Why or why not? Editors Reply Certainly community development corporations can …

Moving into an Abandoned Home 
Can you move into an abandoned home and assume the taxes and mortgage? It seems like a good way to make sure the houses that now are abandoned are getting …

Not Enforcing Town Code 
Visitor Question: Our town of Southeast NY has a law stating there shall be no parking of exposed commercial vehicles in residential zones. The zoning …

Right to stay in same government housing apartment 
Let's say a tenant has been living in government housing and the management had stopped the tenant's mail coming to the tenant apartment that she has lived …

Need down payment assistance found the perfect home 
Visitor Question: I've been trying to get answers and keep getting the run around. I found a home for $99,000. It is a foreclosure. I was told I could …

Housing help for people on disability 
Visitor Question: Does the government help single moms that are disabled get a HUD home? Editors' Answer: Most likely the fact that you're a single …

Young For-Profit Housing Developer 
Visitor Question: Can a for-profit housing developer build and manage both market rate housing and low-income government subsidized housing? Editors' …

Restrictions on renting 
Are there restrictions on who I could rent to? Editors' Reply: First, our answer will pertain only to the U.S. Other countries will have different …

Where to build my house 
I recently stumbled upon this website that sells plans for small homes. I found one that I want to build. It is 261 square feet. I live in Georgia and …

HOA board getting too powerful 
Visitor Question: What is the best way to campaign for being elected to my HOA board? I think the board we have now is making too many regulations. …

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