This chapter describes a rich and relatively untapped source of housing data for developing countries, that of mortgage records at government low income housing agencies. Suggestions are offered on how to obtain access to the confidential data. The advantages and disadvantages of attempting to interpret the data are also delineated. An example is then offered to illustrate the insights into government housing activity obtainable through analysis of mortgage records. In the example, the magnitude and distribution of subsidies among mortgagors of a Jamaican housing agency are quantified, the causes of the subsidies are discussed, and policy changes to increase low income access to housing loans are suggested. The concluding section points to some promising research directions.
A recurrent theme of the chapter is that an analysis of government mortgage records has both theoretical and applied relevance. The research informs state theory by identifying the goals, allegiances, and limitations of the state. Concomitantly, it advises housing policy by identifying mechanisms responsible for low income programmes serving only a limited number of middle income households, and by suggesting modifications.
An analysis of the methodologies employed when using government mortgage records is particularly germane. The choice of internal government computer records as data directs the research along a certain analytical path that contributes much to the outcomes of the research. Government housing records present a classic example of trade-offs between rich insights and frustrating data limitations. This situation calls for particular sensitivity to data issues to obtain the most from a powerful data source, while taking care not to exceed the capacities of the data to inform theory and housing policy.