Keeping Track of Affordable Housing

The availability of affordable housing is an issue in most cities and states. There always seem to be more residents than units, and tracking available units can be difficult. Though there aren’t enough units to meet residents’ needs, there are more than enough to make it nearly impossible for anyone to know exactly what is available and when. That’s why a group from New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy began working on a database for affordable housing. After years of planning and programming, the database is complete. If it works, it could provide an important framework for other cities looking for ways to effectively monitor affordable housing availability.

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Several years ago, the Furman Center partnered with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC), New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The goal of the collaboration was to create a database that accurately tracks the status of New York City’s nearly 250,000 affordable residential rental units. Several test versions have been released over the years, on a very limited scale. But the final version was released this fall and is available for use not only by housing advocates or those working in assistance-related sectors, but also by the general public luxury homes for sale in florida miami.

Users can conduct housing searches based on location, types of affordable housing subsidies accepted, assessed value, and physical condition. Results of the search are displayed on a map, and information includes the property owner’s name, number of buildings and units per building on the property, and any subsidies it is currently receiving. Clicking on a link brings up more detailed information, including assessed value, when the property received its “affordable” restriction, and even the number of housing code violations that have been filed.

One of the greatest benefits of housing databases is that they give residents some autonomy and control when deciding where to live. Residents no longer have to rely on third parties to location available homes. The residents can search for themselves. It also allows residents to choose where they want to live, helping ensure that more families reside close to work, or the school they want their kids to attend. Because residents no longer have to simply accept whatever is available, but can make some choices regarding location and type of housing, databases like the one developed at NYU could spur further economic development and encourage schools to improve student performance in an effort to win over potential residents.

The Furman Center and its partners hope their efforts will assist in preserving the city’s affordable housing stock, and aid in the planning of future developments. Housing advocates hope other cities will follow New York’s example, and begin developing comprehensive databases similar to NYUs.

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