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NLIHC and PAHRC Launch National Housing Preservation Database
By Megan Bolton, Research Director, National Low Income Housing Coalition
A primary goal of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) is to preserve existing federally assisted homes. Critical to achieving this goal is knowing where those federally assisted homes are located and which subsidies are attached to them, but until now, gathering this information has not been an easy task. Although HUD provides accurate and timely data on a number of the rental assistance and insurance programs it administers, it is difficult to integrate those data with information on properties funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture or with low income housing tax credits. The NLIHC has long felt that a property-level inventory of all federally assisted housing would be a huge asset to those interested in the preservation of affordable housing, from local governments and public housing authorities to nonprofit developers and tenant organizers.
NLIHC was fortunate to find a partner with a similar interest and with the capacity to take on this complicated project: the Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation (PAHRC). After locating, cleaning, and merging as many federal datasets as possible, PAHRC and NLIHC launched the National Housing Preservation Database at www.preservationdatabase.org. This dataset includes information on more than 4.5 million units in more than 75,000 federally assisted properties.
Users across the country can now access one central location to find information on properties receiving assistance from any of the following programs: HUD Project-Based Rental Assistance (including properties with Rent Supplement, Rental Housing Assistance Program, and Project Rental Assistance contracts); Section 202 Direct Loan Program for Housing for the Elderly or Handicapped; HUD insurance programs (such as the Section 236 or Section 221(d)(3) Below Market Interest Rate programs); Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program; HOME Rental Assistance; Section 515 Rural Rental Housing Loan; the Guaranteed Rural Rental Housing Program (Section 538); and public housing.
The database allows users to access information in multiple formats. The 'Preservation' tool searches the database by property name or by subsidy type and location. Users can filter the data multiple ways to suit their needs and import the results directly into Microsoft Excel. The 'Preservation' tool is especially helpful for obtaining information on properties that have an expiring contract or maturing mortgage in the next 2 years or for listing properties with low physical inspection scores; this information can help identify properties at risk of losing their affordability.
The 'Research' tool allows users to download the entire dataset into Excel. This extract provides the full property-level inventory, including all property and subsidy information for every property in the database. This tool is aimed primarily at researchers who want to independently analyze the data as well as users who want to add information on state and local subsidies to the dataset, creating a more localized preservation database.
Finally, users can activate the mapping tool to view a map of all of the properties in the database. The map allows users to search for properties by location through the navigation tool or by entering a property address through the “Find an Address” link. It is possible to view properties with all subsidy types or with only specific subsidies. Clicking a property dot on the map will display more information about that property’s characteristics.
PAHRC and NLIHC will update the dataset three times a year — in March, July, and December — to keep the data as accurate and current as possible. Users have several options for providing feedback on the website and its data, and this input will help the developers continually improve the website.
PAHRC and NLIHC have seen local governments, HUD officials, and others come together over similar local datasets to effectively preserve public and assisted properties. With the launch of the National Housing Preservation Database, people across the country will be able to better understand — and preserve — federally assisted housing in their community.