2018 National Planning Conference

Preserving Affordable Housing Through Big Data

Saturday, April 13, 2019 from 10:45 a.m. - noon PDT

CM | 1.25

Activity Type: Educational Sessions

Activity ID: NPC198241

Location: 3020

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  • Obtain publicly-available property and ownership data for coordinating housing preservation activity.
  • Follow a step-by-step data cleaning algorithm using open source OpenRefine software.
  • Categorize owner types and prioritize properties for preservation activities, based on a set of selected characteristics.


Affordable housing production is expensive. A more feasible option is preserving existing subsidized or naturally occurring affordable stock, but still, the funds are limited. How to pick the best properties to preserve? How to locate the best landlords and property owners? This session provides hands-on data-driven methods to simplify these coordination problems. These tools include publicly available access to property data, open-source data cleaning software from OpenRefine, step-by-step instructions on software use, and ways to categorize owner and property types. The session is key for those thinking about the future of planning, financing, and redeveloping affordable housing. Panelists will walk attendees through the process of obtaining and cleaning publicly available data on property values and characteristics and on property ownership, using interactive software outputs and maps. In a 'do-it-yourself' style, attendees will take home an approach to preservation, links to key data sources, algorithms for data cleaning, visuals for easy communication of results, and a contact list of organizations engaged in coordinating housing preservation activities. In addition, panelists will present implementation case studies in Atlanta, Cleveland, and Los Angeles. Attendees will also learn about the structure of some typical affordable housing preservation funds and ways of engaging with funders.


Session Speakers

Seva Rodyansky
University of California Berkeley
Los Angeles, CA

Anthony Orlando
California Polytechnic University Pomona
Los Angeles, CA

Brian Y. An
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Los Angeles, CA