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D.C. affordable housing mapped in new interactive tool

A brand new tool, called Housing Insights, has been created in order to help policy makers and advocates find at-risk residential units

Screenshot of Housing Insights

It’s hard out here for a renter, but it doesn’t have to be. Thanks to a group of volunteers, the civic tech organization Code for D.C., as well as the Urban Institute, D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), and the Coalition For Non Profit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED), there is a brand new online tool that is set to make finding affordable housing easier.

The tool, dubbed Housing Insights, allows users to map and filter the many affordable housing projects in the District by using criteria like crime rate, the number of subsidized units in a project, and neighborhood data.

Before, there were three other tools created in order to help policy makers and advocates track affordable housing. These tools were the Urban Institute's D.C. Preservation Catalog, the Deputy Mayor for Planning & Economic Development's Economic Intelligence Dashboard, and the D.C. Department of Housing & Community Development's Pipeline Database.

Housing Insights is meant to consolidate all of these former tools into one comprehensive interactive map.

“Part of the reason why we did Housing Insights is because all of these things existed in isolation,” said Peter Tatian, senior fellow at the Urban Institute. He told Curbed DC that part of what makes this new tool so unique is that it provides a bigger picture to the units that are available.

“It takes not only the data about the properties. but also data about the context of those properties like the neighborhood, and what kinds of investments are happening nearby, and access to transportation,” said Tatian.

Efforts on developing Housing Insights began about a year ago, but the idea arose approximately two years prior. During that time, there were other ideas also floating around, including a tool that could help track “tenant relocation” during redevelopment.

For now, Code for D.C. will continue to host and maintain Housing Insights with the expectation that it will be updated on a weekly basis.

At the moment, Washington, D.C., is the fifth most expensive U.S. city for renting. Because of how difficult it is to find affordable housing, 77 percent of renters in D.C. plan on leaving rather than settling down, according to Apartment List. Even millennials have it tough with nearly half of the population in D.C. spending over 30 percent of their income on rent.

In the end, it's harder for families in the District as the majority of affordable housing that has been created since 2009 has benefited single people and couples.

While Tatian didn’t mention exactly what new tools are in the planning or development stages, he said that there is still interest in continuing to create tools that will benefit the city.

Housing Insights Tool [Official Website]

[UPDATE: A previous version of this article stated that the map was created for renters to find affordable housing. The tool was actually created for policy makers and advocates in order to them to assess preservation investments and strategies.]