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Cityscape: Volume 24 Number 2 | Measuring Blight


Measuring Blight

Volume 24 Number 2

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

Does the Inclusion of Residential No-Stat Addresses Along Rural Postal Carrier Routes Improve Vacancy Rate Estimates?

Alexander Din
Peter Han
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not represent the official positions or policies of the Office of Policy Development and Research, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or the U.S. Government.

Blighted housing is a problem in communities throughout the United States. Many definitions of blight and data sources attempt to quantify and measure blight. One common measure of housing blight is housing vacancy, and one common data source for housing vacancy is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Aggregated U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Administrative Data on Address Vacancies (USPS address data). This dataset provides granular and timely data into active and vacant housing. However, the USPS address data is not without its flaws. The label “not-a-statistic” (“no-stat”) to describe housing that is vacant, under construction, or otherwise not receiving mail is an ambiguous designation and has puzzled researchers. It is not possible to discern between no-stat for blight versus no-stat for development in the data. This error may lead researchers to false conclusions about housing vacancy or neighborhood characteristics of high housing vacancy areas if the housing vacancy rate is not accurately calculated. The label no-stat has even attracted Congressional attention to decipher no-stat for blight versus no-stat for development.

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