It is no secret that low-income families and households are struggling to find affordable housing options in their neighborhoods all over the United States. If you are reading this, it is likely that you work at or are associated with partners that think creatively to expand affordable housing in your area. Here at mySidewalk, we’ve joined health systems, housing developers, community based organizations, for-profit companies and government at all levels to address housing affordability.
With so much attention on finding new opportunities, sometimes organizations overlook what could be the most obvious first step in helping low-income residents in your community -- preserving the affordable housing stock you already have. You see, affordable housing is largely made possible thanks to temporary incentives and funding that federal, state and local governments give developers to ensure affordable rent. Every year, it is possible that some affordable housing in your area could lose these temporary benefits, causing rent prices to increase and forcing low-income residents to move. That puts a strain on the stability and safety of your communities.
At the center of helping find affordable housing solutions are the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and the Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation (PAHRC). Their research, data collection and advocacy have helped communities understand and preserve affordable housing stock across the country. The National Housing Preservation Database (NHPD), created and maintained by PAHRC and NLIHC, is the only deduplicated list of federally assisted rental housing in the US. It provides thousands of people access to the best understanding of affordable housing in their communities.
PAHRC and NLIHC teamed up with mySidewalk to make information from the database more accessible. Using mySidewalk’ proprietary data enrichment process, many of the most important indicators in the NHPD are now available in mySidewalk Seek and Chart for your city, town, zip code, neighborhood, census tract and more. This new availability means that mySidewalk subscribers have a simple and easy way to view and share affordable housing data and find solutions. To receive the address-level data, you can register your organization for the National Housing Preservation Database.
The next step in our collaboration with PAHRC and NLIHC is the launch of The Affordable Housing Preservation Toolkit, now available in mySidewalk Chart. This toolkit invites users to explore five opportunities for preserving local affordable housing backed by the researchers at the NLIHC and PAHRC. The toolkit has been added to mySidewalk’s library of templates and aims to help local affordable housing advocates and planners understand their affordable housing stock, assess preservation risks in their community, and equip them with ideas to enhance their local housing preservation efforts. It combines data from the NHPD, best practice examples from other communities, and more resources local partners can use in their plans.
Features of the Toolkit:
This toolkit provides a space inside the mySidewalk platform for subscribers in all industries to engage in affordable housing preservation. Both PAHRC and NLIHC hope stakeholders use it to justify and adopt new local preservation policies and initiatives, search for more preservation data, communicate the importance and need for affordable housing to peers, and build a network of partners that can advocate for additional preservation funds.
The Affordable Housing Preservation Toolkit is available in Chart, the data visualization and storytelling platform from mySidewalk. If you are not a mySidewalk subscriber, please go here to request a toolkit for your community at no cost.
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Brandon Gumm joined the mySidewalk team in 2017 from the Port of Greater Cincinnati Redevelopment Authority where he worked as a commercial development associate. After several years of helping build communities from the ground up both at the local and regional level, Brandon now works with partners around the country designing tools that help track, analyze, and communicate their performance and impact. He works alongside all mySidewalk customers to make sure the work they are implementing is helping them make progress on their goals and producing measurable outcomes.
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