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Using Local Housing Data


Locally generated data can add valuable insights into the nature and extent of a locality’s housing needs and provide it on a timelier basis. Such data can help local officials determine how to best address those needs in a local housing strategy, decide what objectives to pursue in its strategy, how to allocate housing resources, evaluate the effectiveness of different policies, and monitor and evaluate progress as the local housing strategy is implemented.
Using Locally Available Data, Interviews, and Surveys to Supplement Nationally Available Data in a Housing Needs Assessment

Why use local data?

There are several reasons to use local data to supplement nationally available data in assessing housing needs:

  • Local data, such as data generated by local government agencies or programs or through surveys or qualitative research, provide an important complement for nationally available data, allowing localities to paint a richer and more accurate picture of the locality’s housing needs. 
  • Local data may be more current than nationally available data. Census data may not be able to capture recent market changes that affect housing costs and availability, so important housing issues such as gentrification and displacement may not be visible.
  • Local data obtained through surveys, focus groups, interviews, or similar engagement strategies are critical to understanding the perspective of local residents, such as residents in neighborhoods experiencing cost pressures or declines, and housing stakeholders, such as nonprofit and market-rate housing developers, realtors, landlords, lenders, elected officials and homelessness service providers. These data can tell a richer and more compelling story about local housing needs than quantitative data alone can do and thus may be beneficial to building public support to address local housing challenges.

    The tools and resources below outline some useful ways to use data to achieve local housing goals. 

Unlocking the power of local housing data

This brief explores the uses, benefits, and challenges of using local administrative housing data. It also outlines strategies for accessing, harnessing, and collecting these data and for building local data capacity.

Let's talk about local data

Explore Data Talks, our series of mini-webinars tackling a variety of local data topics, from rental registries to resident surveys to property inventories. Each webinar installment features a ‘fireside chat’ with a local expert.

Using local data to evaluate inclusionary zoning

The ability of inclusionary zoning to provide affordable housing options is closely linked with local context and policy decisions and can change over time. This brief gives localities tools to analyze whether their inclusionary zoning program meets its goals

Related resources

Can Administrative Housing Data Replace Survey Data? An article by HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research compares the use of local administrative housing data to Census data in Arlington, VA. Information is included on several types of housing data: the number, age, and types of housing units, number of bedrooms, housing value, and property taxes. 

Catalog of Administrative Data Sources for Neighborhood Indicators. Created by the Urban Institute, this catalog details local administrative data from public and private sources that may be available to assist analysis in the areas of housing, social services, health, and environment, among others. 

Neighborhoods by Numbers: An Introduction to Finding and Using Small Area Data. This guide by Allan Mallach provides information on finding and using neighborhood-level data, including national and local data. 

Unleashing the Power of Administrative Data: A Guide for Federal, State, and Local Policymakers. This paper by Results 4 America focuses on barriers, solutions, and best practices for working with administrative data, including how to integrate disparate data sources.

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