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GETTING RURAL RIGHT IN THE AMERICAN HOUSING SURVEY American Housing Survey User Conference March 8, 2011 Washington DC.

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Presentation on theme: "GETTING RURAL RIGHT IN THE AMERICAN HOUSING SURVEY American Housing Survey User Conference March 8, 2011 Washington DC."— Presentation transcript:

1 GETTING RURAL RIGHT IN THE AMERICAN HOUSING SURVEY American Housing Survey User Conference March 8, 2011 Washington DC

2 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT The Housing Assistance Council (HAC)

3 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT The American Housing Survey The American Housing Survey is one of the most detailed and valuable sources of information on our nation’s housing stock. However; The AHS has substantial shortcomings and limitations concerning its coverage and reporting of rural households The research hopes to inform improvements for reliability and coverage of rural housing units for future American Housing surveys.

4 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT The American Housing Survey Rural Households in the AHS Household residence (rural status) within the AHS Public Use File (PUF) is typically indicated through the ‘METRO3’ variable. Several issues substantially limit the quality, availability, and accuracy of rural household information in the AHS.

5 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT The American Housing Survey Rural Households in the AHS (continued) METRO3 presents outdated geographic status. To maintain longitudinal and confidentially aspects, unit location geography in the survey has not changed since Not only have actual geographies changed, but many of the underlying concepts defining these concepts are also outdated.

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8 What is Rural? Rural areas share common characteristics of comparatively few people living in an area, limited access to large cities, and considerable traveling distances to market areas for work and everyday-living activities. But rurality exists along a continuum, and varies widely based on factors such as proximity to a central place, community size, population density, total population, and various social and economic factors.

9 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT What is Rural?

10 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT What is Rural? What is Rural? (continued) Public agencies and researches have used combinations of these factors to define rural areas and designate population as rural. These rural classifications are far from synonymous or mutually exclusive concepts.

11 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT What is Rural? The Example of Poverty Census Defined Rural Areas and Nonmetropolitan counties are often viewed as similar concepts when characterizing “rural ” However, they vary widely in underlying concepts and characteristics. For example, poverty is higher than the national rate in Nonmetropolitan areas, but lower than the national rate in Census Defined rural areas.

12 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT The Example of Poverty

13 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT Methods The research incorporates several different rural classifications into the 2009 AHS (and ACS) to provide a more comprehensive assessment of residence patterns within the survey. Researchers identified housing units in the survey on the basis of their location in respect to several different concepts of rurality and rural character.

14 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT Methods Methods (continued) Findings present basic housing and unit characteristics for each rural definition, along with differences, advantages, and disadvantages for each of the concepts within the context of the survey. Rural-centric approach **Preliminary Findings. Some figures are from the American Community Survey (ACS), while the a more detailed analysis of 2009 AHS is being completed.

15 DEFINITIONS AND CONCEPTS OF “RURAL”

16 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT Methods Selected Rural Definitions There are countless definitions used to identify rural populations and territory. The research selected four (4) primary classifications that vary widely in their methods, scope, and application.

17 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT OMB Metropolitan Status OMB Metropolitan Statistical Areas Among the more widely used definitions for programmatic and research purposes County based geography Measure based on population density and commuting. Is largely a measure of connectivity to a “core based economic area” Pros: Popular and widely used, easy to understand. Geography is commonly identified with. Cons: Lacks Precision. Not as good a proxy for “rural” as it used to be.

18 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT OMB Metropolitan Statistical Areas OMB Outside Metropolitan Statistical Areas 49,350,228 population 16.3 % of the population 75 % of the US land mass

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20 The Example of San Bernardino County, CA

21 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT Census Defined Rural Areas The Census Bureau classifies rural as all territory, population, and housing units located outside Urbanized Areas (UAs) and urban clusters (UCs). Block based geography Census definition based largely on population density Pros: Widely used and easily accessible. Sub-county precision Cons: Not easily identified or associated with. Residual “either or” definition. Possibly too expansive.

22 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT Census Defined Rural Areas 69,261,165 population 22.9 % of the population 97 % of the US land mass

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24 USDA Rural Development Eligible Areas The USDA-RD definition is a sub-county classification denoting eligibility for affordable housing programs that USDA’s Rural Housing Service administers. Generally includes open country or rural towns with no more 20,000 in population. Pros: Not based on county or tract boundaries Provides a more precise indicator of rural territory and population. Definition is familiar to rural housing practitioners and policy makers. Has been the basis of USDA’s affordable housing programs and efforts for decades. Cons: Lesser known and complex definition. Not easily accessible

25 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT USDA Eligible Areas 104,924,717 population 34 % of the population 97 % of the US land mass

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27 Small Town and Rural based on Housing Density Small Town and Rural Definition (Housing Density) Alternative rural definition based on housing density (housing units per sq. mile) and commuting. Tract level geography. Includes five categories; urban, exurban, suburban, small town, and rural. Collapsed into 3 categories Pros: Delineates important suburban and exurban areas. Sub-County geography provides greater precision. Cons: Not easily accessible or well known. Multiple categories

28 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT Small Town and Rural (Housing Density) Small Town and Rural (Density) 64,953,557 population 21.5 % of the population 90 % of the US land mass

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30 PRELIMINARY FINDINGS

31 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT Total Housing Counts

32 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT Housing Tenure

33 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT Structure Type

34 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT Housing Affordability

35 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT Crowding

36 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT Housing Quality

37 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT Housing Quality

38 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT Findings Preliminary Finding #1 THERE IS NO PERFECT DEFINTION OF RURAL!

39 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT Findings Preliminary Finding # 2 (reactive) Current geographic components and concepts within the AHS are outdated and woefully inadequate. Current residence coding schemes render the AHS public use files practically useless for any meaningful analysis of rural housing conditions.

40 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT Findings Preliminary Finding # 3 (proactive) Smaller units of geography increasingly provide a more precise indicator of rural character. Reduced reliance on county level geography. Scope is just as important as scale. Continually assess and “tweak” data to more accurately define rurality. (Goldie Locks analysis).

41 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT Findings Preliminary Recommendation # 1 (reactive) HUD and the Census Bureau should remedy the current inadequacies of geographic classifications endemic in the AHS public use file. The agencies should (reasonably) relax policies that inhibit the updating of geographies in the current AHS Public Use File. Going forward, the survey should allow for geographic changes when updates are available.

42 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT Findings Preliminary Recommendation # 2 (proactive) HUD and the Census Bureau should consider incorporating multiple geography variables within in the AHS. Give Data Users more options within the survey. Indicators should include different and varying concepts of residence. (Census Defined Urban/Rural, Updated OMB Classifications, other potential indicators).

43 G ETTING R URAL R IGHT Findings Preliminary Recommendation # 3 (proactive) Don’t forget rural America! We’re not just a “residual”

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