How to report on housing affordability in a meaningful way

Finance 411, Housing,

House keys

By Joe Pye

Not so long ago, reports on home-buying in your market were happy stories. These days, with both home prices and mortgage rates soaring, housing packages are as gloomy as crime packages. 

One way to keep these packages from sounding the same: focus on niches instead of just the aggregate. Depending on your market, you might easily be able to acquire stats for, say, Black or Asian homeownership. 

One of the most helpful sources is the National Association of Realtors, which often issues reports like this one from 2023: “More Americans Own Their Homes, but Black-White Homeownership Rate Gap is Biggest in a Decade, NAR Report Finds.” The national organization can help you find loquacious realtors in your area, who can provide some local observations if not hard data. 

Where to find sourcing

Nonprofit research organizations focus on racial equity on a myriad of topics including housing. 

If NAR can connect you with realtors for sound bites, a think tank can give you data. One that makes sense is the Urban Institute, which “assesses housing affordability and options, evaluates housing programs, and studies how housing affects people’s well-being. We also propose strategies to help the people and places most in need and redress the harms of structural racism in housing markets.” 

In May 2024, Urban published eight studies on housing alone. 

Another research organization is the Brookings Institution. It may not publish white papers as frequently as Urban, but when it does, they’re in-depth topics like “Homeownership, racial segregation, and policy solutions to racial wealth equity” in 2021, or “How the property tax system harms Black homeowners and widens the wealth racial wealth gap” from 2023. 

When to report

Your organization can’t plan for when a research organization drops the next landmark study. But you can plan coverage around cyclical awareness months. 

On April 11, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act. It’s a civil rights law prohibiting “discrimination in housing because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and familial status.”

In 1972, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) declared April “National Fair Housing Month” to celebrate and raise awareness of the law. 

April will work for a news peg for your outlet. HUD also celebrates “Affordable Housing Month” every May, so mark that on your coverage calendar. 

At the rate home prices are climbing throughout the country, housing affordability can stand as a beat of its own right now. There’s no shortage of housing research published by organizations like Zillow, Redfin, and 

Provide helpful resources for viewers

Rather than reporting just the housing affordability problem, journalists need to provide solutions for their audience. 

HUD creates programs and policies to help Americans achieve homeownership.  

HUD has a network of more than 2,200 nonprofit housing counseling agencies throughout all 50 states. Those agencies work with low-income Americans to plan how to purchase a home and even provide grants for things like closing costs.

You can find resources in your state by visiting HUD’s State Information page. The federal agency also provides resources for those experiencing housing discrimination. Its state-by-state list of Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) Agencies is available here

It’s been 56 years since the Fair Housing Act was passed but housing discrimination happens every day – and civil rights lawyers love to get their work out to the press. 

Reach out to a local one for comment. And be sure to point your viewers to the legal resources section of the National Fair Housing Alliance. 


Joe Pye is the Managing Editor of, which has helped millions of people get out of more than $12 billion in debt since its launch last decade. He can be reached at

Finance 411 is a bi-monthly feature, presented by RTDNA and the National Endowment for Financial Education. Interested in becoming a contributor? Email for more information.