Although measures of the home environment have gained wide acceptance in the child development literature, what constitutes the "average" or 'typical" home environment in the United States, and how this differs across ethnic groups and poverty status is not known. Item-level data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth on four age-related versions of the Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment-Short Form (HOME-SF) from five biennial assessments (1986-1994) were analyzed for the total sample and for four major ethnic groups: European Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans, and Hispanic Americans. The percentages of homes receiving credit on each item of all four versions of the HOME-SF are described. For the majority of items at all four age levels differences between poor and nonpoor families were noted. Differences were also obtained among African American, European American, and Hispanic American families, but the magnitude of the effect for poverty status was greater than for ethnicity, and usually absorbed most of the ethnic group effects on HOME-SF items. For every item at every age, the effects of poverty were proportional across European American, African American, and Hispanic American groups.