The Mindset of the Affordable Housing Resident

Posted On: July 1, 2019

Last week, at Apartmentalize in Denver, the topic of learning more about the affordable housing resident was spoken about in the session, “Managing the Mindset of the Affordable Housing Resident.” Angela Lindsey of CORE (National Community Renaissance) and Angel Rogers of STAR Training (Training and Development Consultant) led the session on the topic. 

The aim of the whole session was to explain and describe the way of thinking that affordable housing residents might have, how they might have abided by a different set of rules in their life, and ultimately how managers and housing influencers should understand these qualities.

6.7% of Americans (2.3 million) live in Deep Poverty (Below 35%). And 29.8% of Americans (95 million) live close to poverty (working class).

Hurricane Katrina Metaphor

A brief timeline regarding the status of poverty’s attention in the headlines was mentioned called the Hurricane Katrina Metaphor. In essence, its a brief history lesson culminating in how Hurricane Katrina pushed the nation’s attention back towards poverty.

To start, Ms. Lindsey and Ms. Rogers explained the Economic Boom in the 1990s and how that into the early 2000s there was a perception of a low poverty rate. This could have been due to the public attention that was shifted toward the War on Terror. This negligence of poverty on the macro-scale lasted until Hurricane Katrina hit and poverty once again became a “big issue” in the news.

If the World was 100 people

Here are some statistics to put poverty in the world in perspective.

Gender50 would be female
50 would be male
Age25 would be 0-14
66 would be 15-64
9 would be 65 and older
Geography60 would be from Asia
16 would be from Africa
10 would be from Europe
9 would be from Latin America & the Caribbean
5 would be from North America
Religion31 would be Christian
23 would be Muslim
16 would not be religious or identify themselves
as being aligned with a particular faith
15 would be Hindu
7 would be Buddhist
8 would believe in other religions
First Language12 would speak Chinese
6 would speak Spanish
5 would speak English
4 would speak Hindi
3 would speak Arabic
3 would speak Bengali
3 would speak Portuguese
2 would speak Russian
2 would speak Japanese
60 would speak other languages
Overall Literacy86 would be able to read and write
14 would not
Literacy by Gender   90% of males would be able to read and write
10% of males would not be able to read and write
82% of females would be able to read and write
18% of females would not be able to read and
Education78% of eligible males would have a
primary school education
76% of eligible females would have a
primary school education 

66% of eligible males would have a
secondary school education
63% of eligible females would have a
secondary school education 

7 would have a college degree
Shelter78 people would have a place to shelter them
from the wind and the rain, but 22 would not
Urban/Rural54 would be urban dwellers
46 would be rural dwellers
Drinking Water91 would have access to safe drinking water
9 would use unimproved water
Food11 would be undernourished
Infectious Disease1 would have HIV/AIDS
1 would have tuberculosis
Poverty11 would live on less than $1.90 USD per day

*Numbers from

Poverty’s Definition

So now that poverty has been in the spotlight for over a while now, it is important to understand these three things about the word “poverty:”

  1. “Poverty is relative.”
  2. “Poverty occurs in all races and in all countries.”
  3. “Poverty is a lack of essential resources.”

Essential Resources

What are Essential Resources? Food? Water? Shelter? If so, these all seem like they could be quick fixes in a “first-world” America. While this assumption is not only false, the initial assumptions (like food, water, and shelter) are incomplete. Poverty isn’t just the need for food, water, and shelter. Ms. Lindsey and Ms. Rogers explained the 7 different types of essential resources and how one can be at risk when these resources fall to 3 or below.

  • Financial
  • Emotional
  • Mental
  • Spiritual
  • Physical
  • Support Systems
  • Relationships/Role Models

These resources are in all aspects of a person’s life. And if you think about it, even if someone’s food, water, and shelter are taken care of, those things are really only categorized under one essential resource (physical). So even if these things are well tended to but things like someone’s mental health, emotional health, financial health, and relational health (just to name a few) are not, that person is at risk of being impoverished.

In addition, it is important to understand the position and perception that someone living in affordable housing might have. For example, some people in affordable housing perceive the concept of time and money in much more immediate terms. In other words, the idea of saving for retirement or for future expenses may not be at the forefront of some low-income residents’ minds. As property managers, it is important to understand this and maybe even go a step further by periodically offering advice to your residents. Doing this actually invests in these people’s essential resource of Relationship/Role Models, therefore furthering their chance of overcoming poverty.

Finally, Create Relationships

I know that as managers and housing influencers we can often times get in our ways and routines and sometimes forget about the situation that our resident(s) is in. One piece of advice and I think the most important, is to “be a person” to your residents and let them know that you recognize them as a person. Ultimately, the skills and strategies that are needed for working with affordable housing families and creating relationships with them include:

  • Keeping promises
  • Seeking first to understand
  • Using kindness
  • Clarifying expectations (ex: rent schedules)
  • Being willing to apologize (Be willing to show them value and that they are valuable)
  • Staying open to feedback
  • Showing appreciation for humor and entertainment
  • Respecting priorities and demands of relationships (Respect the privacy of the resident’s own financial situation/decisions)
  • Using your adult voice
  • Assisting with goal setting
  • Identifying to them options to available resources
  • Understanding the importance of personal freedom, speech, and individual personality.


All the points and ideas mentioned in this write-up are from the 2019 Apartmentalize session: “Managing the Mindset of the Affordable Housing Resident,” given by Angel Rogers of STAR Training and Angela Lindsey of National Community Renaissance. Their sources for the session included:


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