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Working Paper Number SEHSD-WP2019-37
W. Ward Kingkade
Component ID: #ti1665195341

Housing is a basic necessity in life, and expenditures on housing usually figure prominently in a household’s budget.  Enabling low-income households to cover their housing costs is an important component of the social safety net.  The ability of such households to afford housing is taken into account in measures of poverty such as the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (Renwick and Fox, 2016; Renwick, 2011; Short, 2014).
    Monthly rent is a question asked of householders in the American Community Survey (ACS).   How to interpret responses to this item, in particular, whether they indicate the out-of-pocket expenditure of the household for rent or the total rental cost of the dwelling unit has been a matter of uncertainty in analyses involving ACS respondents who receive housing subsidies.  In principle, householders can be expected to know, at least roughly, how much they pay for rent per month.  Whether ACS recipients of housing support report the fully subsidized rent is another matter. This question is compounded by the fact that the instructions on whether to include the housing subsidy have varied in the past by mode of interview.

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