We ask about whether a home is owned or rented to create statistics about home ownership and renters. We also ask questions about the monthly rent amount or how much the home and property are worth to produce statistics about rent and home value.
These data help determine whether adequate housing is affordable for residents and provide and fund housing assistance programs. They also help enforce laws, regulations, and policies designed to eliminate discrimination in private-market housing, government programs, and in society.
We use your confidential survey answers to create statistics like those in the results below and in the full tables that contain all the data—no one is able to figure out your survey answers from the statistics we produce. The Census Bureau is legally bound to strict confidentiality requirements. Individual records are not shared with anyone, including federal agencies and law enforcement entities. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents' answers with anyone—not the IRS, not the FBI, not the CIA, and not with any other government agency.
We ask three questions about ownership status, monthly rent, and home value to better understand the housing market.
We compile the results from these questions to provide communities with important statistics to measure housing affordability. You can see some of these published statistics here for the nation, states, and your community.
We ask about the different types of households in a community (single people, couples, families, roommates, etc.) and rates of home rental and ownership to help communities understand whether available housing meets the needs of residents. Data about owners and renters, in combination with housing costs and the combined income of all people in a household, help communities understand whether housing is affordable for residents.
When housing is not sufficient or affordable, statistics about owners, renters, and housing costs help communities:
When rental housing is not affordable, the Department of Housing and Urban Developments uses rent data to determine the amount of tenant subsidies in housing assistance programs. The amount of subsidies is based on the rental distribution of housing units (the standard cost of different types of housing in different areas of the country) and Fair Market Rents.
Knowing how the balance of rented homes, mortgaged homes, and owned homes changes over time helps communities:
We ask about the characteristics of people who rent and people who own homes, such as age, gender, race, Hispanic origin, and disability status to help the government and communities enforce laws designed to eliminate discrimination in housing, such as the 1968 Fair Housing Act.
Statistics about whether older residents are staying in homes as they age or moving into rented homes; and whether young people are staying with parents, renting with roommates, or buying homes, help governments and communities distribute funds appropriately between home ownership and rental housing programs and services for residents.
The ownership question originated with the 1890 Census, while home value and rent questions originated with the 1940 Census. They were added to the ACS in 2005 when it replaced the decennial census long form.