Members Open the Door to Data Resources and Tools

By Justin Godard, NLIHC housing advocacy organizer

September is NLIHC Membership Month, and this week we’re highlighting the ways our members support the development of invaluable data and tools useful to those fighting for more affordable housing. Without accurate data, making the case for investing in low income housing resources would be impossible. NLIHC serves this need by continually researching, developing, and distributing data and tools which accurately describe housing needs. One such tool is the National Housing Preservation Database (NHPD).

Created and maintained in partnership with the Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation (PAHRC), the NHPD is an address-level inventory of all federally assisted rental housing in the United States. The benefit of such a tool is that it allows advocates to get a comprehensive understanding of the affordable housing stock in a community. It also allows users interested in perserving local affordable housing to get a clear understanding of which properties might be at risk of loss from the affordable housing stock.

Resources such as the NHPD are only possible through the support of our NLIHC Members! Join today!

NHPD Property Mapping Tool

NHPD Property Mapping Tool

The NHPD is utilized by a wide range of stakeholders, including practitioners, public officials, advocates, and researchers. It has been used for developing voter-engagement tools for assisted housing tenants,  identifying expiring Section 8 properties where tenants need to be organized to advocate for preserving their affordability, providing data for peer-reviewed journal articles about preservation, and many other purposes. The NHPD is also an important tool for NLIHC’s own research efforts.

Data and resources such as the NHPD are made possible through the contributions of our members. Consider supporting this work and join us!

Note: Nonprofits can sign up to use the NHPD for free; learn more at:

Organizations can also support the NHPD directly at: 

This blog is part of a series of blogs highlighting NLIHC member-driven advocacy successes for Membership Month. Find out more about Membership Month at: 

Hurricane Florence’s Potential Impact on the Lowest Income Renters and Their Homes

by  Dan Emmanuel, NLIHC senior research analyst

Last week NLIHC provided an early estimate of the threat Hurricane Florence posed to vulnerable households and affordable rental housing in the storm’s potential path across North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Now that Florence has passed, we can begin to get a better sense of the potential impact on the lowest income renters and their housing. Our updated estimates suggest that almost 95,000 rental homes affordable to very low income (VLI)* households and nearly 30,000 federally assisted units are located in counties where significant damage is most likely to have occurred. These areas are home to 98,000 very low income renters.

By all accounts Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina the hardest, leading to massive flooding across the eastern half of the state. The 18 most severely impacted counties in North Carolina received a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration. All 18 North Carolina counties were designated for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Individual Assistance (IA) programs (see map below), which include the Individuals and Households Program (IHP). IHP provides approved registrants with rental assistance, home repair assistance (for homeowners), or assistance for other serious disaster-related needs, such as childcare, medical care, transportation, storage, or the repair or replacement of essential household items.

These same counties are also eligible for FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) program for categories A-B, which provides local jurisdictions assistance with debris removal and emergency protective work. PA categories C-G provide recovery assistance for public infrastructure, sometimes including public housing authority (PHA) facilities. So far, eight counties in South Carolina received a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration and are eligible for PA (A-B), but not IA. While our estimates are limited to IA designated areas, this does not preclude the possibility that damage occurred in other areas in South Carolina.

Analysis_Map 2 9 Small

See the enlarged map at:

During the IA application process, FEMA collects important information on the housing tenure of IA registrants, extent of damage to inspected housing units, and dollar amounts for approved assistance. These data offer an early opportunity to examine the extent of assistance needs and housing damage for both renters and homeowners following a disaster. IA application data are also an important metric for beginning to gauge the equity of federal, state, and local governments’ responses to a disaster. HUD uses FEMA’s damage inspection data in determining unmet housing needs, which informs the allocation of Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds administered by state and local governments. Advocates found potential disparities in the approval rates for IA among renters following Hurricane Harvey and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) documented a significant bias for homeowners in the allocation of CDBG-DR funds following Hurricane Katrina.

While full data from IA applications are not yet available and inspections will likely not be complete for several weeks, IA designations generally highlight the communities most impacted by the storm and where the most significant damage likely occurred. The 18 North Carolina counties with an IA designation have a combined poverty rate of 18.6% compared to the national poverty rate of 15.1%.** These counties are home to a little over 98,000 very low income renter households and there are just under 95,000 rental homes affordable to them (see table below). Based on data from the National Housing Preservation Database (NHPD), we estimate there are almost 30,000 federally assisted housing units in North Carolina’s IA designated counties. In Craven County alone, where the media has reported on damage to public housing in the town of New Bern, there are over 2,000 units of federally assisted housing.

Vulnerable Households

Source: CHAS 2011-2015; National Housing Preservation Database 2018; ATSDR Social Vulnerability Data 2016

HUD also provides estimates of its potentially affected assets, but those do not necessarily include properties assisted through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) or USDA Rural Development programs.*** LIHTC is the largest federal housing production program. Restoring, if not expanding, the limited supply of rental homes affordable to VLI households will be critical to an equitable recovery.

*Note: HUD defines very low income (VLI) households as those earning less than 50% of the area median income (AMI).

** Note: Based on 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year estimates.

***Note: HUD’s estimates do include FHA mortgages and vouchers, while the NHPD does not.

As of September 20, 2018, 5:00pmET

Members Open the Doors to Tools like Housing Profiles

By Joey Lindstrom, NLIHC manager for field organizing

This week, as part of membership month, we are highlighting the research, data, and tools that are made possible through the support of NLIHC members. State and Congressional Housing Profiles are used commonly by NLIHC members and advocates throughout the country to communicate key facts and figures about affordable housing shortages in their respective communities. The tools are designed to provide a local focus for communicating with policy makers or members of the media. Legislative staffers are often grateful for the handy information; housing profiles feature graphs and charts that show the shortage of affordable homes for extremely low income households in a state, housing cost burden by income group, the annual income needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent, and other important statistics that make the case for the expansion of affordable homes for the lowest income households.


Example: 2018 DC State Housing Profile

Housing Profiles are effective tools for lobby visits with members of Congress because they use empirically driven data to show the unmet needs of the lowest income households. The data tells a story of massive disinvestment for people struggling the most. This data provides a structured argument alongside the personal experience and stories that local advocates are ready to provide.

State and Congressional District Housing Profiles would not be possible without the support of NLIHC members! Join NLIHC today by clicking here.

During NLIHC’s 2018 lobby day over 50 members braved a snowstorm and partners conducted visits with more than 120 legislative offices to discuss NLIHC’s policy priorities, such as NLIHC’s opposition to housing benefit cuts, funding the THUD budget at the highest possible level, and expanding revenue for the national Housing Trust Fund. Housing Profiles were a key part of lobby day packets that participants used to advance their policy arguments.

Tools such as our Housing Profiles are only possible through the support and contributions made by our members. Consider supporting this work and join NLIHC today!

This blog is part of a series of blogs highlighting NLIHC member-driven advocacy successes for Membership Month. Find out more about Membership Month at: 

Members Open the Door to Cross Sector Organizing Like Opportunity Starts at Home

By Tori Bourret, NLIHC housing advocacy organizer and Mike Koprowski, Opportunity Starts at Home national campaign director

This week, as part of membership month, we’re highlighting collaborative efforts that will broaden the circle of organizations advocating for affordable homes for all. A key example is the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign. Together with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Children’s HealthWatch, Make Room, and the National Alliance to End Homelessness, NLIHC launched the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign this past winter to increase the political will to provide resources for affordable housing by bringing non-traditional voices to housing advocacy.


The campaign has an active steering committee that represents a wide range of national organizations that support the campaign’s goal and works together to address the affordable housing crisis. Representatives from advocacy sectors like education, healthcare, civil rights, anti-poverty, anti-hunger, faith-based and more are now convening to discuss how everyone can work together to bring about housing justice. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is part of the steering committee and a proud member of NLIHC.

“Accessing decent, safe and affordable rental housing is an enormous challenge for adults living with mental illness. NLIHC plays a critical role in convening diverse interests and achieving alignment on critical federal policies such as ensuring that HUD’s programs effectively target extremely low-income individuals and households. In addition, NLIHC has been successful in leading efforts to oppose cuts to important HUD programs such as Section 8, McKinney-Vento and Section 811.” -Andrew Sperling, NAMI’s Director of Legislative and Policy Advocacy and member of the Opportunity Starts at Home steering committee.

NLIHC is pleased to have members like NAMI recognize that affordable homes are inextricably linked to their own priorities and concerns. Meeting the needs of the lowest income households is effective when we work together to increase federal investments in proven solutions.

Opportunity Starts at Home is a team effort, with excellent leadership provided by numerous partners and supported with a substantial grant from the Funders for Housing and Opportunity. Much of the work NLIHC is able to put into this campaign, especially its development, has been informed and supported by our members.

 Founding Partners

We’re grateful for the members who help us launch exciting collaborations with new partners. Become an NLIHC member today!

This blog is part of a series of blogs highlighting NLIHC member-driven advocacy successes for Membership Month. Find out more about Membership Month at: 

Members Open the Door to Convening Low Income Renters with Invaluable Lived Experience

By Justin Godard, NLIHC housing advocacy organizer

This week, NLIHC is celebrating membership month by highlighting the crucial ways in which our members help us create opportunities for dialogue and collaboration. Our dialogue is not just with elected officials and academics; low income renters with lived experience are an essential voice in our work and provide essential leadership in our movement. We kicked off our 2018 Policy Forum by welcoming more than 90 resident leaders to a special session titled “Resident Session: Movement Building and You.”

The session focused on how residents can tap into their own communities, organize, and lead movements for housing in their own communities. Dr. J Otis Smith, principal of Stand By Systems II, Inc. opened up the session by urging residents to tap into their leadership potential and be deliberate about building teams that make positive social impact and transformative change.

The annual resident session would not be possible without the support of NLIHC members! Join today!

Dr J Otis Smith

Dr. J. Otis Smith leads a discussion on how residents can organize to achieve the greatest impact

The session featured examples where residents mobilized and demanded their voices be heard such as in Charlottesville, VA. Following their meeting at a prior NLIHC Resident Session, the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign teamed up with the Public Housing Association of Residents (PHAR) of Charlottesville, an NLIHC member, to create a Section 3 exchange program between public housing residents, resident leaders, and Housing Authority leaders from Chicago and Charlottesville. Both Willie “J.R.” Fleming, Executive Director of the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign, and Joy Johnson, PHAR Board Member, shared how they were able to make the exchange a reality through collective action organizing.

“I enjoyed hearing how folks are organizing campaigns around the country,” said resident leader Whittier Dow of Philadelphia, PA. “It was interesting hearing about the impacts regular tenants had made through organizing their campaigns and how dedicated they were to their causes.”

Whitter Dow

NLIHC member Whittier Dow at the 2018 Resident Session

Events such as these are only possible through the support and contribution made by our members. Consider supporting this work and join us!

This blog is part of a series of blogs highlighting NLIHC member-driven advocacy successes for Membership Month. Find out more about Membership Month at: