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Living in public housing

Codes and Frequencies

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PUBHOUS indicates whether the house, apartment, or mobile home is part of a government housing project for people with low incomes, commonly known as a "public housing project."

Participation in public housing is determined by two factors: program eligibility and the availability of housing. Income standards for initial and continuing occupancy vary across local housing authorities, although Federal guidelines set broad limits. Rental charges define net benefits and cannot exceed 30 percent of the family's or the individual's net monthly income. A public housing unit can be occupied by a family of two or more related persons or an individual who is handicapped, elderly, or displaced by urban renewal or natural disaster.

An alternative form of housing assistance is rent subsidy, in which the rent for a housing unit is reduced because the Federal, state, or local government is paying part of the cost. See (RENTSUB).

Households coded as "Yes" in PUBHOUS or RENTSUB were receiving housing assistance at the time of the ASEC survey. The reference period for some other non-cash benefits is the preceding calendar year (for Food Stamps) or the previous six months (for heat subsidy).

For some variables relating to means-tested government assistance, including PUBHOUS, information was collected only from households whose estimated income fell below a given threshold. During the first month that a household entered the survey, and one year later, the CPS interviewer asked the respondent to estimate the family's total income in the past twelve months, by choosing one of fourteen broad categories. Only households in which the household members' combined income fell below a given level (e.g., under 30,000 dollars in the 1980s) were questioned about means-tested program benefits. Households with estimated incomes above the threshold were presumed to not qualify for or receive such benefits, and were not asked these questions, to limit the length of interviews. Households that were not questioned were coded as "no" for several variables relating to the receipt of means-tested benefits, including PUBHOUS.


The variable is comparable across years.

Comparability with IPUMS-USA

The PUBHOUS variable in IPUMS-CPS is comparable to PUBHOUS in the 2000 C2SS in IPUM-USA.


  • 1976: Households and group quarters whose members are not buying and do not own their house.
  • 1977-2019: Interviewed households and group quarters whose members are not buying and do not own their house.


Years Jan Feb ASEC Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1976 – 2019 - - X - - - - - - - - -



Unharmonized Variables

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