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Data Talks: Learning How to Use Local Data to Inform Housing Policy


As part of their regular functions, city and county agencies, community-based organizations and businesses gather data about people, properties, and transactions. These local data are a valuable source of information about local housing needs and whether a locality’s existing housing policies are effective. But they also come with some challenges.

In Data Talks, a series of mini-webinars, we tackle a variety of topics related to using local data to inform housing policy. Each 45-minute session includes a short presentation and a fireside chat with a city or housing authority partner about their experience using or collecting local data.

Invitation to Data Takes Webinar Series to Discuss How Data Can Be Used for Housing Policy

Join our mailing list to stay in the loop as we open registration for future sessions. Scroll to watch videos of past events. 

Data Talks 1 — Local Housing Data 101

The inaugural episode of Data Talks features a primer on the benefits and challenges of using local data. Our guest is Kimberly Rubens, Chief of Policy and Research at Baltimore City’s Department of Housing and Community Development, who shared insights about how Baltimore puts local data to work (18:14).  You can view a slide presentation of the webinar here

Recommended Reading: 

Data Talks 2 — Learning About Rental Properties

In our second episode, Professor Ingrid Gould Ellen discusses how cities can learn about their rental properties through deeds, tax, and rental registry data. Our guest is Allison Pretto, Project Manager for the City of Oakland, California. Allison shares her experience (18:24) launching the city’s new rental registry. You can view the slides presented in the webinar here.


Recommended Reading: 

Data Talks 3 — Surveying Residents About Housing Needs

Our March 2024 episode addresses an important qualitative tool: surveys. Martha Galvez, Executive Director of the Housing Solutions Lab, discusses when and how surveys can be useful, and some best practices for survey design, administration, and analysis. Our guest Montana James, Deputy Director of Community Development for the City of Missoula, Montana then shares her experience (19:40) leading an in-person survey to inform the city’s housing strategy. You can view the slides presented in the webinar here.

Recommended Reading: 

Data Talks 4 — Building a Real-Time Homelessness Data System

This May 2024 episode is a collaboration with Community Solutions focusing on how communities can collect and harness real-time, person-specific homelessness data. Our webinar features presenter Adam Ruege, Director of Strategy and Evaluation for Built for Zero at Community Solutions; and fireside chat guests Mackenzie Kelly, Interim Executive Director, and Jodie Legg, Data Analyst, of the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition (CRHC). You can view the slides presented in the webinar here

Recommended Reading: 

Data Talks 5 — Understanding Housing Quality

Our June 2024 episode will focus on using code violations, property inventories, and other local data sources to shed light on housing quality.

Data Talks 6 — Presenting Data to the Public: Storytelling with Local Data

August 2024’s episode will offer practical guidance for using local data to inform and engage communities through visualization and narrative techniques.

If you have questions about Data Talks, contact Director of New Research Partnerships Claudia Aiken at

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