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Taking Stock: Rural People, Poverty, and Housing at the Turn of the 21st Century
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Taking Stock: Rural People, Poverty, and Housing at the Turn of the 21st Century provides an overview of rural America's residents, their economic condition, and their homes. This publication is third in a series of decennial reports by the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) that use data from the Census and other sources along with case studies describing some of the poorest parts of the rural United States.1

As the 21st century begins, rural America's population is growing and is becoming more diverse than ever before. Rural residents are aging, and both single-parent and single-person households are increasingly common. Rural education levels – and thus the acquisition of some skills needed for employment in the 21st century economy – still lag behind those of metropolitan areas. The U.S. rural economy has diversified but economic stagnation remains a problem in many rural communities. Overall, poverty persists as a greater problem in nonmetro places than in the U.S. as a whole, and housing affordability problems, often associated with urban areas, are increasing in rural places and now affect one rural household in four.

Characteristics of rural America – such as concentrations of persistent poverty, lingering housing quality problems, and relatively high homeownership rates – are evident in the national population, economic, and housing data described in this report. Much of the rural U.S. reflects these common characteristics, but rural America is also made up of diverse communities. Some match national average levels of poverty and homeownership, but many more have distinct social and economic characteristics. The regional analyses and case studies in this report depict five persistently poor areas and populations in rural America and provide examples of counties with some of the worst housing conditions in the U.S. (HAC)
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