New Affordable Housing Preservation Tool Empowers Advocates to Save Housing

Have you ever wanted to get a list of all of the federally assisted multifamily properties in your community, but couldn’t find one that was truly comprehensive? Have you ever wished you could see if a property had more than one subsidy attached to it, but didn’t want to have to go to multiple datasets to do it? Do you want to be able to see which affordable properties in your community have upcoming contract expiration dates so you can focus your efforts on ensuring those properties remain affordable? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then you will be happy to hear that a new tool is now available that will allow you to do all of the above and much more!

The National Housing Preservation Database is an address-level database of all federally subsidized multifamily properties in the country. It includes information on properties with the following types of assistance:

This database contains the most comprehensive information about the location and status of over 70,000 properties and 3.5 million units.

We encourage you to take some time to explore this brand new resource. There is a “Preservation Tool” that allows you to search for specific types of properties in the geography of your choice, and there is a “Research Tool” that allows you to download the entire dataset. A detailed User Guide provides more information on how to use each of these tools. You can also view a map of all of the federally subsidized properties in your community on this website.

Affordable housing advocates know how vital the existing stock of project-based housing is to low income households in this country and have been waiting for a tool like this that might assist them in their efforts to identify and preserve this housing. Many cities and states have created similar databases for their locality and local governments, tenant organizers, nonprofit developers and others have used these databases to preserve affordable housing in those communities. Now, it is possible for people all over the country to create similar databases and coalitions.

If you are interested in creating a local database that includes properties with state and local subsidies from this larger database, feel free to contact Megan Bolton, Research Director at NLIHC at megan@nlihc.org.

Let us know what you think of the database and the mapping tool, and share with us how you might use this information to preserve affordable housing in your community. Let’s talk preservation in the comments!

Building a Movement

Ordinarily, we use our Wednesday posts to discuss policy issues. But we readily admit that it takes more than just good ideas and some research findings to move a policy agenda through Congress. It takes the voices of many to encourage lawmakers to act. This is why we work so hard to grow our membership, build the public will for a change in housing policy, and engage advocates like you in the process through Calls to Action and our annual lobby day.

What it takes, in other words, is a whole lot of us working toward the same goal and building a movement.

On his Washington Post blog today, Ezra Klein shared some interesting thoughts on movement-building from a community organizer named Rich Yeselson. Yeselson analyzes the current Occupy Wall Street protests in the context of past social movements and identifies a number of things he thinks will determine the success of this or any social movement:

[T]he work of skilled organizers; the success of those organizers in getting people, once these events end, to meet over and over and over again; whether or not the movement can promote public policy solutions that are organically linked to the quotidian lives of its supporters…..

How does advocacy for affordable housing match up to these standards? What do you think housing advocates need to do to ensure the building and preservation of housing affordable to the lowest income people? Let us know what you think in the comments.