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A Resource for Preserving Affordable Housing

10 January 2018
Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation, HAI Group

Keely Stater, Manager of Research and Industry Intelligence, HAI Group

As rents continue to rise, as the number of higher-income renters grow, and as the affordable housing stock shrinks, it is increasingly difficult for low-income families to find a decent and affordable place to live1. A recent study by Freddie Mac suggests that the US lost 60% of its affordable housing stock from 2010 to 20162. New data from the National Housing Preservation Database (NHPD) shows that nearly half a million currently affordable units are at risk of loss by 2022. These trends make the preservation of affordable housing a critical part of reducing homelessness and hardship for low-income households. Preservation of current affordable housing is much more cost-effective than building new housing properties and improves a community’s long-term sustainability3. One important resource for preserving affordable housing is data: understanding trends in the housing stock and identifying affordable properties at risk of loss.

The Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation (PAHRC) and the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) work together to produce the NHPD, which provides data on the existing affordable housing stock. The NHPD is the only comprehensive database that contains a de-duplicated inventory of nearly all federally assisted housing properties and the subsidies they receive. These subsidies make the units affordable to low-income families and individuals. The database is searchable by location, property name, and subsidy types, and users can download extracts of their data selections or pre-packaged extracts.

The goal of the NHPD is to provide communities with the information they need to create a local inventory of affordable properties and track any properties that may have upcoming expiring subsidies or sub-standard inspection scores. Community housing professionals and advocates can then collaborate to keep these properties affordable by working with landlords, finding a potential buyer, or providing preservation funds.

The NHPD was recently updated with new data and additional data items that allow easy combination with other datasets, such as the American Community Survey. Rental assistance programs covered in the database were also expanded to include properties made affordable through state funded programs in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Florida. New state fact sheets and infographics containing information on the number of properties at risk of loss were also added to the website.

The NHPD provides a free, rich data resource to nonprofit organizations working to preserve affordable housing and to understand the challenges faced in their communities. It also helps researchers better understand trends in the affordable housing inventory, such as the factors associated with falling out of the affordable inventory and how affordable housing is helping households access opportunities for economic mobility. As we learn more about the affordable housing stock, we can more strategically work to preserve affordable options for low-income families.

1 Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. 2015. America’s Rental Housing: Expanding Options for Diverse and Growing Demand.
2 Freddie Mac. 2017. “Rental Affordability is Worsening.”
3 PAHRC. 2017. 2017 PAHRC Report: How Sustainable Communities Create Resilient People.

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