Assess Housing Needs

Play Video about Assess your community's housing needs. Background: single family homes.

Background

We want to walk you through a useful, free tool available on Local Housing Solutions. Through a partnership with PolicyMap, Local Housing Solutions has created a tool that generates an individualized, data-rich report for every City, Metro, and County in the US to document and illustrate its housing needs. 

Accessing the report

To access the report for your own locality, just visit localhousingsolutions.org/HNAT or visit Local Housing Solutions and select “Housing Needs Assessment” under the Data menu.

From there, launch the tool and search for your jurisdictions (i.e., city, county, town, metro area) using the search bar feature on the upper left corner of the page. Once you have selected a jurisdiction, click on ‘Get Report for this [City/County/Metro Area]’ link to produce the individualized report for that geography.

Once your report is processed, which can take a few seconds, you will see that a map has  appeared, illustrating your selected geography in orange. Users are also given the option to rerun the report for that surrounding metro area. If you’re happy with your current geography, no further action is needed.

Table of contents

Immediately below the map, you will see an interactive table of contents for the rest of the report. Each of these headers is hyperlinked, and when clicked, will take you to that respective section of the report.

The report contains dozens of interactive visualizations categorized under:

  1. Demographics
  2. Rental Affordability
  3. Homeownership Affordability 
  4. Dedicated Affordable Housing 
  5. Adequacy of Housing Production
  6. Housing Stock Characteristics
  7. Neighborhood Variations
  8. Rental Stock for Seniors and Other Special Populations


(Please note that We are constantly considering ways to enhance our coverage of housing issues and will likely add new categories and  visualizations to this report in the future) 

If you are interested in a particular category, you can click on it and go directly to the relevant visualizations.

Demographics

The first section of our report examines the demographics of your locality. Our housing needs assessment contains data on age, racial and ethnic composition, disability, and socioeconomic status that can provide insight into who lives in the jurisdiction and inform decisions about how to meet diverse needs and allocate resources where most needed.

Each of the visualizations in the report is downloadable in chart or image form. Most visualizations in this report are interactive, and will display additional detail when users tap or hover over bars or data points. In some cases, this detail includes percentage changes to provide trend information.

Rental costs and affordability

How significant is the affordability problem for renters in my locality and is it getting better or worse?

In addition to providing you with interactive, downloadable visualizations, each section provides comparison points for the same measures at the state and national levels. Each section also includes a brief description of trends to be aware of, along with links to relevant policy guidance and other useful tools on Local Housing Solutions.

Homeownership costs and affordability

The next section of the assessment  can help you answer similar questions surrounding homeownership affordability in your jurisdiction.

Homeownership costs and affordability

The next section of the assessment  can help you answer similar questions surrounding homeownership affordability in your jurisdiction.

Dedicated affordable housing

Surveying the landscape of existing affordable housing  can help clarify gaps left by federal subsidies and identify the extent to which existing dedicated affordable housing units may be lost as federal regulatory agreements expire. This section identifies the following key data points:

  • How many federally subsidized housing units are in your locality? And, where are they located? You can zoom in on the map to show tax credit or other federally-subsidized property locations.
  • How many of your rental units were built under a government program that required rent and income restrictions in exchange for a government benefit?
  • And, how many of these dedicated affordable rental units will expire out of affordability requirements within the next few years?

Adequacy of housing production

This next section of the report is designed to help jurisdictions understand whether the supply of housing is keeping pace with population and employment growth. This section focuses on nationally available data that provide clues regarding the extent to which the production of housing is keeping pace with demand by analyzing changes in housing vacancy rates and overcrowding.

Housing stock characteristics

Continuing on, the sixth section of the needs assessment is aimed at giving users a thorough understanding of the characteristics of its housing stock, which canhelp jurisdictions identify and anticipate issues with the stock that may need to be addressed, such as poor housing quality or flooding risks, and identify mismatches between the types of housing units available and the needs of the population.

Neighborhood variations

While, so far, we have been focused on comparing city-level data to metro, state, and national trends, neighborhood-level data can illuminate patterns of poverty, segregation, and access to resources that are important to consider and address as part of an overall community development strategy and in order to affirmatively further fair ow are people of different races and ethnicities segregated by neighborhood? Utilizing a variety of maps created by and available on PolicyMap, the seventh, Neighborhood Variations section of the report includes interactive maps to help you answer many of these key questions.

Housing stock for older adults

Finally, senior households often face higher rates of specific housing challenges, including affordability due to limited or fixed income and accessibility due to mobility limitation, and when analyzing a region’s housing profile it is critical to analyze the specific housing needs for seniors. The section in our housing needs assessment includes five interactive visualizations to help you understand the housing needs of older adults.

Conclusion

Our Housing Needs Assessment Tool can help quantify the state of housing affordability and equity in your community. We hope you’ll pair it with the policy guidance and resources available through Local Housing Solutions and the Housing Solutions Lab to build or improve your jurisdiction’s housing strategy today. Happy planning!

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