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Cityscape: Volume 21 Number 3 | Small Area Fair Market Rents - A New Cost-Based Index of Housing Quality and Repair Needs


The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Small Area Fair Market Rents

Volume 21 Number 3

Mark D. Shroder

Michelle P. Matuga

A New Cost-Based Index of Housing Quality and Repair Needs

Eliza Wallace

Eileen Divringi
Keith Wardrip
Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

The American Housing Survey (AHS) has long been a powerful tool for understanding housing problems in the United States. Traditionally, researchers have relied on subjective measures of housing adequacy or other abstract indices for quantitative analyses of housing quality. In addition to the characteristics of households or units with repair needs, when crafting policy solutions or guiding resources, decision makers need to know how much investment might be needed to bring the housing stock up to standard. PolicyMap and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia have addressed this need by developing a novel method to assign estimated repair costs to housing problems reported in the AHS. In this article, we describe how we merged a proprietary repair cost dataset with microdata from the AHS public use file (PUF) to estimate the total cost of repairs that would be needed for each surveyed housing unit, using survey weights to aggregate estimates at various geographic levels. We briefly present key national findings on repair needs. Summary tables of these findings and more are available to the public for download.

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