Keely Stater, Manager of Research and Industry Intelligence, HAI Group
Do your data effectively tell your story? You often hear people say that the data speaks for itself. However, many data-driven organizations may find that the presentation of data is a key factor in how powerfully data can tell their story. This dilemma is explored by three research organizations in a session at the Connecticut Housing Coalition’s annual conference on Tuesday, September 26, 2017. Organizations will share critical lessons learned in communicating the meaning of their data and engaging people in their work. Participants should come away with a better understanding of what works when encouraging a non-technical audience to effectively use data to advocate for affordable housing and low-income households. Audience members will also have the opportunity to explore their success in a hands-on activity.
The Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation (PAHRC) at HAI Group will be one of the organizations sharing its lessons learned. PAHRC engages in research and publishes reports on households receiving housing assistance and the dynamics of the assisted housing portfolio. One lesson we have learned when working with complex social problems like the lack of affordable housing, is that conveying an effective message often depends on weaving the data into a relatable story.
Many people not familiar with housing assistance programs may not understand who these programs serve and why many households able to work cannot easily find a new job. Using data to tell a story can resonate with the audience’s current viewpoint, which is an important part of effectively sharing your message. In PAHRC’s work, we tell this story in a number of ways using different data points. For example, our publication on investments in education for assisted households, The Education Boost, explains the gap in educational attainment for those who seek out and receive housing assistance compared to their low-income unassisted peers. This gap means that many assisted households are starting a step behind their peers in terms of the labor market investments needed to find work with wages that can support area rents.
In another publication, the 2017 PAHRC Report: : How Sustainable Communities Create Resilient People, we explore which households receiving housing assistance are able to work (just 45%) and how many of these households have at least one person working (three-quarters). We also find that 43% of assisted adults that are able to work are likely care givers, supporting children under 6 or elders over 82.
Using data to create a relatable narrative about who receives housing assistance and the challenges for non-elderly, non-disabled families to climb the economic ladder helps us more effectively advocate for the value of housing assistance and the need for additional supports for these families.
We hope you attend the session to learn from other organizations and share your data stories!
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