Housing in America: A Resource Guide

For millions of Americans who are experiencing homelessness or who are inadequately housed, finding safe, comfortable and permanent housing seems forever out of reach. How is it possible that, in one of the richest nations in the world, so many lack access to this most basic human need? Use the resources in this guide to learn more about how we got to where we are today, what is being done to address this problem and where we are going in the future.


The housing crisis has its roots in many facets of everyday life, including affordable housing and the lack thereof; poverty; homelessness; real estate and mortgage lending practices; discrimination; zoning; and urban and suburban planning and development. This booklist was created in support of our 2022 Housing Justice Forum and for those who are interested in exploring this complicated and complex topic.


Many of these films and videos are available online; others may be available through streaming services:

  • Citizen Architect: a documentary film that follows a group of university students who explore architecture’s role in addressing issues of poverty, class, race, education, social change, and citizenship in a rural Alabama community. Available for checkout by PPL cardholders.
  • Citizen Jane: a documentary recalling the efforts of Jane Jacobs, activist and author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, to prevent urban planner Robert Moses from razing and building over historic sections of New York City in the 1950s and ’60s. Available for checkout by PPL Cardholders.
  • Urbanized: a documentary film that looks at the way cities around the world are designed, and the efforts being made to make urban living more functional. Available for checkout by PPL Cardholders.
  • Plunder: a documentary that explores how the financial crisis was built on a foundation of criminal activity, uncovering the connection between the collapse of the housing market and the economic catastrophe that followed. Available for checkout by PPL Cardholders.
  • Segregated by Design: a short film that “examine[s] the forgotten history of how our federal, state and local governments unconstitutionally segregated every major metropolitan area in America through law and policy.”
  • Unzipped: An Autopsy of American Inequality: a documentary on the growing unaffordable housing crisis in Venice, California.
  • Nomadland: An older woman travels across the West, embracing the nomad life and van living in this feature film starring Frances McDormand. Based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Jessica Bruder. The film and book are part of the library’s collection and are available for checkout.
  • Brick by Brick: A Civil Rights Story: a documentary of stories that follow three families as they encounter housing, racial, and educational discrimination in their community of Yonkers, NY. Free to view by PPL library cardholders via Access Films on Demand.
  • Fair Housing Film and Video Recommendations: a playlist from the National Association of Realtors of clips and short films focused on housing justice issues.
  • Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies: a YouTube playlist of scholarly presentations and discussions on housing inequities.
  • Show Me a Hero: a six-part HBO miniseries that explores the topics of race, community and home. Based on the true story of Yonkers mayor, Nick Wasicsko and from the book with the same title by Lisa Belkin.

NPR (National Public Radio) has a number of podcasts exploring housing issues such as:

Out of the Archives is a podcast from the National Housing Museum that offers oral histories and stories from public housing residents.


Use the resources below to explore the wide variety of information from federal, state, and local governments, as well as private and public organizations, all dealing with housing topics. While not comprehensive, this list serves as an entry point for those interested in learning more about this timely topic.

Statistics and Reports


  • Princeton Affordable Housing Map: An ongoing project of the Historical Society of Princeton, this interactive story map provides historical context to the existence of housing inequity in Princeton and discusses the potential impacts of future developments.
  • Princeton at the Turn of the 20th Century: Created by Tsering Wangyal Shawa, Geographic Information Systems and Map Librarian at Princeton University, this project “explores methodology and workflows of spatially linking the United States historical population census data to individual houses” in both urban and rural areas.
  • Could Where You Live Influence How Long You Live?: This interactive tool from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation uses the National Center for Health Statistics’s neighborhood-level data to demonstrate how where you live can impact how long you live.
  • New Jersey Community Asset Map:An interactive mapping tool with economic, housing, and demographic info for each municipality from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.
  • Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America:Historical data from University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, providing a historical look at housing discrimination. For additional information, read this NPR article about the project.

Directories of Organizations Offering Assistance and Advocacy


Library Databases

The library subscribes to a significant collection of research databases that are searchable using a variety of options such as keyword and subject. Many of the research articles found in these databases are available in full-text and provide immediate access to the contents of the articles, journals, and magazines. All visitors to the library can access these databases while in the library, and PPL cardholders can access most from home with their library card number and PIN (usually the last 4 digits of the cardholder’s phone number). Our complete list of databases can be found here. Databases of particular interest on the topic related to housing justice are:

Suggested general search terms are housing, “affordable housing, “low cost housing,” “housing crisis,” or “housing market, ” or other related areas. Use quotation marks around multiple word subject terms. Combine terms for more specific searching or to limit the search results, connecting them with AND. For example: “affordable housing” AND poverty or housing AND discrimination.

PPL cardholders also have access to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal from home via a special code available from the Information Desk on the second floor.

Please contact us if you need assistance searching these databases or to receive the codes for NYT and WSJ.

Scroll to Top