The Importance of Using Layered Data to Analyze Housing: The Case of the Subsidized Housing Information Project

By Reina, Vincent; Williams, Michael | Cityscape, January 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

The Importance of Using Layered Data to Analyze Housing: The Case of the Subsidized Housing Information Project


Reina, Vincent, Williams, Michael, Cityscape


Abstract

The Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy recently developed a new database through its Subsidized Housing Information Project (SHIP). The SHIP database combines more than 50 disparate data sets to catalogue every privately owned, publicly subsidized affordable rental property developed in New York City with financing and insurance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), HUD project-based rental assistance, New York City or State Mitchell-Lama financing, or the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program. The pooling and layering of data, as well as combining the data with other local housing and neighborhood information, in databases like the SHIP allow for a clearer understanding of the existing affordable housing stock and enable practitioners to more effectively target resources toward the preservation of affordable housing.

Introduction

The Subsidized Housing Information Project (SHIP) is a comprehensive, publicly accessible database that New York University's Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy (the Furman Center) developed. The SHIP database catalogues the nearly 235,000 units of privately owned, publicly subsidized affordable rental properties ever developed in New York City with financing and insurance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), HUD project-based rental assistance, New York City or State Mitchell-Lama financing, or the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program.1 This database combines more than 50 government and public data sources to give an overview of the majority of privately owned, publicly subsidized housing in New York City. A database like SHIP can aid in efforts to preserve and manage these properties by providing a clear understanding of the number of units subsidized, an improved capability for assessing challenges to the existing subsidized housing stock, and a sharper view of the potential for properties to leave subsidy programs.

History

In 2007, concerned that the subsidized housing stock was rapidly declining in an overheating housing market, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation funded a Preservation Capacity Assessment for the city. The assessment resulted in a series of recommendations to the five city, state, and federal agencies charged with administering New York City's housing programs, including a suggestion that the agencies create an interagency working group to devise strategies to protect the affordability of subsidized properties. The assessment also highlighted the need for an independent and objective source of information about the subsidized housing stock (Begley et al., 201 1). Accordingly, the Inter- agency Working Group (IWG) was formed in 2008 and selected the Furman Center to create a single database of all properties ever subsidized by HUD, the MitchellLama programs, and the LIHTC Program. The Furman Center then applied to the MacArthur Foundation and received funding to develop the database.

The MacArthur Foundation, recognizing the need for local data on the privately owned and publicly funded multifamily rental stock, has supported similar efforts across the country. For example, the foundation funded several government agencies' efforts to develop databases for internal use, including the Los Angeles Housing Department. The foundation also funded other research centers, including DePaul University's Institute for Housing Studies and the University of Florida's Shimberg Center for Housing Studies, to create publicly accessible databases that catalogue the local affordable rental housing stocks.

The SHIP database is part of a larger national effort toward integrating disparate housing data into databases and making that information accessible to the public. HUD has also recognized the need for more comprehensive data and is looking into models for creating a national preservation database.

Description of the Database

The fundamental value of the SHIP database is its ability to track multiple funding sources associated with a single property. …

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