Louisiana Housing Corporation Launches New Interactive Data Map to Support Affordable Housing Policies

The Louisiana Housing Corporation has launched an interactive mapping tool aimed at helping the state’s housing advocates, developers and policymakers leverage a wide range of data to make more informed decisions related to affordable housing.

The online tool, which is available to the public via the LHC website, was developed using the interactive data-mapping PolicyMap framework. It offers easily accessible and on-demand data about housing, health, demographics and economic factors that affect communities and affordable housing issues across Louisiana.

“This tool empowers our stakeholders with 24-hour access to information about their communities from the comfort of their home or office. Our housing development partners will be equipped with data resources to improve their research in advance of application submissions and develop more effective housing plans aligned with LHC’s strategic goals,” says Janel A. Young, the LHC’s Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives.

Helping Create Data-Driven Housing Policy

Reliable demographic and housing characteristics data such as income, household size, and age is the foundation of any effective affordable housing policy. The challenge for many housing stakeholders — from nonprofit organizations to private developers — is that much of the data is constantly changing. “There are many sources and reports for housing data that are inconsistent and from unreliable sources. At times, this is overwhelming and community advocates don’t know where to start,” Young says.

The LHC’s PolicyMap initiative aims to help overcome this challenge by giving housing stakeholders, easy access to a vast range of data sets that are updated continuously from thousands of official and reliable sources. The data can be mixed and matched and easily visualized by parish, municipality, census tract or election district.

Young says the tool represents a significant step up from the static datasets that many developers and others rely upon as they seek funding for affordable housing developments. “The unique part about PolicyMap is that it's on-demand,” Young says. “The more transparent we are about our data, the more we can effectively focus on target populations and communities that need our programs and services the most. It's a win-win for us all.”

Leveraging Thousands of Data Sources

PolicyMap offers easy-to-use online mapping with data on demographics, real estate, health, jobs and more in communities across the U.S. The true power of PolicyMap is in its ability to offer easy access to thousands of data sets that are continually updated.

“We have tens of thousands of data indicators in PolicyMap,” says Tom Love, Director of Business Development at PolicyMap. “We have a data team that continuously monitors all the sources, the government websites, for the availability of new data and then quickly updates that in PolicyMap.”

For example, he says, recent additions included data on incarceration rates and community “resiliency,” based on aspects such as minority population, housing and access to the internet.

“We're always adding new data sets,” Love says.

Providing Congressional and State Districts With the Data They Need

The tool also allows an analysis of housing and demographic data within the boundaries of congressional districts as well as state House and Senate districts, providing a planning tool for policymakers and elected officials on the state and federal level.

The district-level information can be layered with additional data sets to provide a detailed view of what LHC investments have been made within a district’s boundaries, in conjunction with demographic information such as poverty rates or percentage of elderly residents.

“Our goal is to launch PolicyMap as a housing policy and data platform to empower our housing partners and communities at the granular level. It will be a helpful resource to our congressional and state offices as well.” Young says. “There is so much information available about our communities related to housing, health, demographics and more. We are excited to share this resource with our stakeholders.”

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