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Introduction

HISTORY AND ROLE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was established as a cabinet-level agency in 1965. Under Title V1 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity is responsible for the agency’s federally assisted programs, including housing and community economic development, and for enforcement of related civil rights statutes. The Civil Rights Act of 1968 gave HUD responsibility for enforcing civil rights legislation, including broad housing anti-discrimination laws.1 The establishment of an agency at the cabinet-level to address civil rights, poverty, and the state of American cities reflects the importance of domestic issues in the “Great Society” 2 programs of that era.

HUD has faced many challenges over its 40-year history as American cities changed and national priorities shifted. International crises, such as the Vietnam War and the gas shortages of the mid-1970s, focused attention away from the domestic issues the agency was created to address. With privatization

1  

For details, see the Civil Rights Federal Directory (<http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/crd/federal/hud.htm>).

2  

“Great Society” was the term used to describe domestic policies of President Lyndon B. Johnson who proposed a war on poverty as part of the nation’s efforts to overcome racial divisions. President Johnson expanded the federal government’s role in domestic policy to advance this goal.



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1 Introduction HISTORY AND ROLE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was established as a cabinet-level agency in 1965. Under Title V1 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity is responsible for the agency’s federally assisted programs, including housing and community economic development, and for enforcement of related civil rights statutes. The Civil Rights Act of 1968 gave HUD responsibility for enforcing civil rights legislation, including broad housing anti-discrimination laws.1 The establishment of an agency at the cabinet-level to address civil rights, poverty, and the state of American cities reflects the importance of domestic issues in the “Great Society” 2 programs of that era. HUD has faced many challenges over its 40-year history as American cities changed and national priorities shifted. International crises, such as the Vietnam War and the gas shortages of the mid-1970s, focused attention away from the domestic issues the agency was created to address. With privatization 1   For details, see the Civil Rights Federal Directory (<http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/crd/federal/hud.htm>). 2   “Great Society” was the term used to describe domestic policies of President Lyndon B. Johnson who proposed a war on poverty as part of the nation’s efforts to overcome racial divisions. President Johnson expanded the federal government’s role in domestic policy to advance this goal.

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of government functions in the early 1980s, market mechanisms rather than government intervention were identified as the best way to solve problems like poverty, lack of affordable housing, and urban decline. Although policy in this era emphasized market-oriented approaches, Congress also passed the Stewart B. McKinney Act of 1987, which enabled HUD to continue playing a role in addressing housing and urban issues. The Stewart B. McKinney Act of 1987 engaged HUD to help communities deal with homelessness. New responsibilities for the housing needs of Native Americans, and Alaskan Indians came with the 1988 Indian Housing Act. HUD’s priorities for increasing home ownership, especially for low-income Americans, were reinforced by the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing and Low-Income Housing Preservation and Residential Homeownership Acts of 1990. In 1995, the “Blueprint for Reinvention of HUD” stressed housing reform, adaptation of the Federal Housing Administration, and consolidation of programs into community block grants. Through the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998, Congress approved Public Housing reforms to reduce segregation by race and income, encourage and reward work, bring more working families into public housing, and increase the availability of subsidized housing for poor families.3 Home-ownership reached a record high in the third quarter of 2000, when 67.7 percent of American families owned their homes (HUD, 2002a). Despite changes in emphasis and national priorities over HUD’s history, the agency’s mission has remained constant. HUD’s mission is to increase homeownership, support community development, and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination (HUD, 2002b). To carry out its mission, HUD has identified six strategic goals (HUD, 2002b): Increase homeownership opportunities. Promote decent affordable housing. Strengthen communities. Ensure equal opportunity in housing. Embrace high standards of ethics, management, and accountability. Promote participation of faith-based and community organizations. HUD’s wealth of relationships with local and community groups and attention to the most disadvantaged communities in the United States provide 3   Poverty measurements are variable. The U.S. Bureau of the Census sets income thresholds that vary with locality and with family size and composition, below which a family is considered poor (<http://www.census.gov/hhes/poverty/povdef.html >). See Citro and Michael, 1995.

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the agency with a singular ability to introduce the priorities of local and underrepresented groups into national dialogs. The agency can also advance the inclusion of much needed local, urban data that meets national standards in the national spatial data infrastructure. The Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) is at the forefront of HUD’s efforts to use geographic data and tools to address issues of urban poverty and community housing needs. HUD’S OFFICE OF POLICY DEVELOPMENT AND RESEARCH To carry out its mission, HUD engages in research and develops policies help socially and economically disadvantaged Americans secure adequate housing in safe communities. PD&R contributes to HUD’s mission by maintaining current information to monitor housing needs, housing market conditions, and the operation of existing programs; and by conducting research on priority housing and community development issues (HUD, 2002b). As described below, PD&R has worked toward the creation of an agency-wide geographic information system (GIS) to bring together the data that HUD and its clients and partners need to address issues of housing and urban development and to promote citizens’ participation in related decisions. HUD asked the National Research Council to evaluate the agency’s GIS programs with particular attention to PD&R. The committee addressed the potential of GIS and spatial analysis for supporting PD&R’s goals including: ensuring the availability and accuracy of essential data on housing market conditions and trends; disseminating this information to the public; conducting research to expand the knowledge base needed for improved policy and practice nationwide; and working through interagency groups to achieve consensus on housing and urban issues. GEOGRAPHIC DATA FOR POLICY AND RESEARCH AT HUD Geographic information is a subset of the overall information base at HUD (Box 1.1). Public sector agencies such as state, local, and federal government need geographic information to carry out missions, such as resource conservation, species protection, infrastructure planning and maintenance, surveying and mapping, and land-use analysis. HUD needs geographic information to carry out its mission to increase homeownership, to support community development, and to increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination. To meet these goals, HUD must know the location of

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Box 1.1 Information Systems and GIS Information systems and GIS have much in common because both use a computerized system for collecting, storing, analyzing and disseminating information. An important difference is GIS’ capability for cataloging spatially referenced objects and their attributes within the context of a map. GIS can also be used to perform quantitative analysis based on geographical principles, such as location in space, flows, or vertical and horizontal relationships (Obermeyer and Pinto, 1994). Research issues at the intersection of computer science and geo-graphic information sciences include database management systems, data mining, human-computer interactions (including graphics and visualization), transmission of vector data via the Internet, and development of algorithms and data structures (NRC, 2002a,b). The management of information systems across an organization and the development of an agency’s enterprise GIS demand the formulation of long-term objectives and plans at a high management level; as well as operational decisions, goal setting, resource allocation, and staff development at the middle management level (Obermeyer and Pinto, 1994). See Figure 1.1. FIGURE 1.1 This Venn figure demonstrates the relationship between Information Systems and GIS. SOURCE: Adapted from Obermeyer and Pinto, 1994.

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existing housing and the families who are eligible for that housing. If communities are to develop, jobs and services must be accessible, and GIS can help determine and show the spatial relationships among these amenities. To understand the housing market in a neighborhood, HUD must have information about economic and market trends in the surrounding city and region. HUD’s current GIS programs include software-based initiatives (Community 20/20, E[environmental]-MAPS, R[research]-MAPS and E [enterprise] GIS), research initiatives (programs in the Colonias and Global Urban Indicators), and GIS efforts in HUD field offices. These programs are discussed in more detail where relevant throughout the report. As in many federal agencies, the proportion of political appointees at HUD creates frequent turnover and may contribute to reduction in continuity of GIS initiatives. Community 20/20 (Box 2.2), initiated in 1994, suffered from lack of clear program ownership leading to problems with data maintenance and updating, and contributing to the lack of assurance of data quality and comparability across HUD units. Community 20/20 software was not made available online, which impeded widespread use. No assessment of users’ needs or requirements was carried out and there was little input into the initiative from technical units at HUD. E–MAPS (Box 2.3), a partnership begun in 2000 between HUD and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to make environmental information available at the neighborhood level, provides spatially referenced data that is essentially descriptive in nature. Information is made available free over the Internet. No analytic capabilities are included in E-MAPS and no new data can be overlaid on existing information. R–MAPS (Box 2.4) marked an improvement in spatial analytic capabilities and was a prototype for the current web-based interactive mapping system in HUD’s enterprise GIS (EGIS). Datasets from other federal agencies were not included in R-MAPS. HUD’s EGIS (Box 2.5), developed in partnership with Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), sets out to correct these problems. EGIS is housed in the Office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) at HUD. In 2000, PD&R began to provide the technical expertise, research, and analysis for the development of the enterprise GIS while the CIO continues to provide the infrastructure, an enterprise view of the data, and software for data dissemination. With EGIS, data and user-friendly tools will be provided via the Internet. The addition of two sets of census data to the EGIS will facilitate assessment of data trends. The EGIS initiative also indicates the agency’s intention to cooperate with other federal agencies that produce data related to HUD’s mission but there is no indication that HUD intends to integrate local datasets into the EGIS or make local datasets available via the Internet as part of this initiative. The EGIS is intended to provide an enterprise view

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of HUD data, spatial analytic capacity, and to address issues of data accuracy and completeness.4 The internal use of GIS at HUD within its regional offices varies considerably. Recipients of HUD grants tend to use GIS to identify the spatial distribution of their programs; to visually display allocation of resources for political and educational purposes; and for advocacy related to programmatic directions. Currently, HUD’s field offices often lack both adequate data and staff who are proficient in GIS and spatial analysis. Due to limited understanding of spatial analysis, comparative spatial statistics, and housing indicator development, most of the GIS efforts in HUD’s field offices go no further than point and thematic mapping. This report focuses on PD&R’s role in providing technical and research advice and information across HUD’s program offices and in support of the development of the EGIS. PD&R performs research and analysis of spatial data for all of HUD’s program offices. The major components of HUD’s research programs using GIS are the following: Economic Affairs: analysis of mortgage trends, mortgage distribution, home ownership, and general demographic information for determination of fair market rent.5 American Housing Survey: provision of national and metropolitan estimates of housing conditions and zoned data. Policy Development: research leading to improved policy in support of mission goals. Research and Evaluation: post-program evaluation for fair housing programs, assistance programs, and mortgage market assessments; and mapping of racial and economic segregation, and mapping. Among the data-collection activities HUD funds are the American Housing Survey, carried out by the U.S. Bureau of the Census; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac home mortgage data collections; and the State of the Cities Report6 from which HUD creates value-added products on employment, education, and other indicators of urban quality-of-life. HUD has access to standard U.S. Census data, 1990 special tabulation of non-standard data, 4   Current information about the EGIS is available at <http://hud.esri.com>. 5   The current definition of fair market rent is the 40th percentile rent—the dollar amount below which 40 percent of standard quality rental housing units rent. National Low Income Housing Coalition (<http://www.nlihc.org/oor2000/appendix.htm>). 6   <http://www.huduser.org/publications/polleg/tsoc99/contents.html>.

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statistics for cities (entitlement communities), Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage data, fair housing data, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac data—all at the census-tract level.7 GIS AND A CHANGING AMERICA Trends over the last 20 years have transformed the organization and practice of everyday life in America. High-speed information and communication technologies and related infrastructures link people and organizations in what Manuel Castells (1996) calls “the network society.” The availability of information and networks for sharing it has transformed economic practices ranging from manufacturing to finance to marketing (creating, for example, the “e-economy”), and our social lives (from daily household tasks to the creation of new national and international communities). At the heart of the Information Society are digital technologies for the collection, storage, retrieval, analysis, and mapping of information. One of these information systems—GIS—deals with the handling, analysis, and mapping of spatially referenced data.8 GIS has transformed the practices of research and application in dealing with environmental, land use, resource management, and urban and regional issues in the United States. GIS is a computer tool for understanding where things are located on the surface of the Earth. More than simply drawing maps, GIS allows analysts and citizens to answer questions such as: “Where is assisted housing located in my neighborhood?” “Which environmental hazards are within 5 miles of where I live?” “How can I get from where I live to where I can work?” “What is the best location for a day-care facility in my community?” GIS does this by permitting the integration and analysis of different kinds of data (e.g., environmental data and demographic data), and the display of the results in a visually attractive, and graphically explanatory way. Why Is GIS Important to HUD and PD&R? GIS can aid in public-policy decisions for more effective allocation of resources for community and economic development, for better-managed community planning and growth, as well as for the efficient delivery and use 7   A census tract is an areal unit used in collecting and reporting census data (NRC, 1998). 8   Spatially or geographically referenced data are data with known latitude, longitude, and elevation, or other horizontal and vertical coordinates.

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of public services. It provides a common framework—location—for information from a variety of sources. Because many of HUD’s programs have goals that can be identified by location, GIS can be a powerful tool for understanding and managing the results of HUD’s efforts (Box 1.1). Moreover, the modeling and visualization capability of GIS provides a means of testing alternatives and turning data into information, and subsequently into knowledge. GIS is a tool for data management and spatial analysis but the information derived from GIS is only as accurate as the data that went into the system and as relevant as the questions posed. The use of GIS has increased markedly over the last 10 years in the United States and worldwide. Reasons include increased capabilities of computers generally, and GIS specifically; decreased costs of computer technology; and development of user-friendly, web-based interfaces (Obermeyer and Pinto, 1994). The evolution of software and data standards, supported in part by efforts of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), has spurred the application of geographic information and the diffusion of GIS by making data more available and more readily usable for a range of applications. Growing familiarity in the general population with spatial technologies such as GIS and the global positioning system (GPS) has also increased the demand for geographic information and tools. The potential of GIS to handle large quantities of spatial data makes the technology valuable for a variety of management and planning decisions about land use, community development, and resource allocation (NRC, 1999). GIS can contribute to the HUD’s mission in numerous ways as described in Box 1.2. Urban, metropolitan, and state governments throughout the country have already turned to GIS as a means to deal with their own burgeoning demands for more effective and efficient service. Public and private services and utilities have been mapped digitally. Emergency services, such as 911, make regular use of GIS systems to enhance their performance and response times. Urban authorities are using GIS to study the rapid changes in the social and spatial make-up of neighborhoods. HUD is using GIS to better manage spatial data and better understand the spatial processes underlying housing market trends and the evolution of urban issues in the United States. HUD AND THE EVOLUTION OF URBAN ISSUES The nature of the city and the metropolitan region has been drastically transformed by urban expansion and related economic decentralization. In many cases, a deepening of socioeconomic differences within the city has resulted. Poverty in the city is a product of regional growth and the transfer

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of the tax base and regional expenditures from poor urban areas to thriving suburban areas (Orfield, 1997). The flight of the middle class and of the jobs it once sustained in the city has greatly complicated HUD’s central mission of providing adequate housing and alleviating poverty. Potential solutions are neither simple nor subject to consensus by all concerned. Box 1.2 Benefits of GIS Some of the major capabilities of GIS that relate to HUD’s mission are described below: GIS provides the platform for the development of place-based data systems to measure the impact of federally supported housing programs and support housing policy decision-making, Up-to-date, accurate information is needed for analyzing issues and trends, for examining the impact of programs, and to support nation-wide analysis. GIS provides the platform to conduct spatial analysis research to support policy making and impact assessment. Coupled with the growing availability of spatial analytical tools, GIS permits advanced spatial queries to inform policy making (e.g., “Show me all the housing units with children within 5 miles of a toxic waste site”). GIS provides a platform for collaboration among researchers, practitioners, and policy makers. GIS is a powerful visualization and communication tool that presents data in a map-like form that people can relate to and offers opportunity for collaborative work on interdisciplinary housing policy questions. GIS provides the technology to develop Internet-based tools to support housing decisions for low-income households. Information tools are currently available to higher income households. For example “realtor.com” provides detailed property and neighborhood information for houses available for sale in the private market. Johnson (2002) describes a prototype Internet-based GIS program designed to allow Section 8 participants to identify preferred communities. Source: Ayse Can Talen, Fannie Mae, personal communication, February 21, 2002.

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During the 1990s, HUD developed an in-house GIS and expanded access to its web-based system showing loan-performance data. Then-Secretary Cuomo described the program as “another step in our plan to protect consumers and communities from predatory and abusive lending practices” (Hasson, 2000). GIS offered an approach to address the dynamics of urban poverty, housing provision, and regional growth at multiple scales including the local and the regional. Increased attention to the threat of international terrorism since September 11, 2001, has increased pressure for the integration of information systems and for speedy access to useful and reliable information. It is within this framework of evolving technology, urban-regional dynamics, and national needs that HUD seeks an assessment of its use of GIS. Through PD&R, HUD has responded to the increased availability of geographic information and technologies with a number of software- and research-based initiatives that use GIS. These efforts have focused on long-standing agency priorities including affordable housing and home ownership, as well as community empowerment through access to information and decision-making tools. Descriptions of these efforts are summarized in textboxes throughout Chapter 2. Providing affordable housing is among HUD’s principal and long-standing goals. An evaluation of HUD-assisted public housing programs by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) recommends that HUD improve its organizational culture to enhance collaboration with its housing partners. Specifically, the NAPA report suggests that HUD make longer-term systemic improvements to increase flexibility, reduce administrative and data burdens, and take advantage of opportunities for greater use of outcome-oriented techniques to enhance housing quality (McDowell, 2001). Although this report does not discuss organizational issues, the contributions of an agency-wide GIS to HUD’s internal program assessment and monitoring is described in Chapter 2. The agency routinely updates its information systems but HUD’s current software systems (that is, Public and Indian Housing Information Center System, the Real Estate Management System, the Residential Assessment Subsystem, HUD’s Central Accounting and Program System, and the Empowerment Information System) are not adequate to the task at hand. A report by the General Accounting Office (GAO) finds that HUD’s current information systems do not meet the information needs of management and staff and do not provide support for needed programs and operations due to weaknesses in developing requirements, project management, contract tracking, and software evaluation (GAO, 2001). HUD is aware of these weaknesses and the need for integrated information across the agency—this study was requested as part of HUD’s efforts to address these issues.

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High-quality and reliable information systems, including GIS, are needed to support HUD’s goals of making housing affordable, revitalizing communities, and encouraging home ownership. These information systems are also needed to support HUD’s internal management, financial and administrative programs, and research agenda. HUD functions in a complex institutional network of individuals, government agencies at levels from local to federal, non-governmental organizations, private companies, and its own dispersed regional and field offices. Good communication and the availability and exchange of essential data on housing and urban development are necessary for this network to function. STUDY AND REPORT The report evaluates HUD’s evolving GIS programs. These GIS programs identify and standardize processes, formats, and specifications for Internet-based, interactive place-based inquiry applications using spatial data from HUD’s databases and other federal agency and local agency datasets. Particular attention is paid PD&R’s specific mission goals including: ensuring the availability and accuracy of essential data on housing market conditions and trends; disseminating this information to the public; conducting research to expand the knowledge base needed for improved policy and practice nationwide; and working through interagency groups to achieve consensus on housing and urban issues. At the request of HUD, this study was undertaken to provide perspective and guidance to the PD&R about current and future GIS research and applications, and to provide strategic direction for the agency. The committee chose to address urban and housing issues at the regional and metropolitan level9 because that is the best way to identify and address the patterns and processes that determine poverty in the United States whether it occurs in the city or in the countryside. The alternative is to play what Rusk (1999) calls the “insider game” in which solutions to urban and neighborhood ills are sought in the local places where they arise rather than in regional processes that have local influence. Poverty in the United States is 9   A metropolitan area is a core area containing a large population nucleus, together with adjacent communities having a high degree of economic and social integration with that core (<http://www.census.gov/population/www/estimates/aboutmetro.html>). For a discussion, see Rusk (1999).

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largely an urban phenomenon,10 but it is the product of social and economic processes working at the metropolitan and regional level (Brockerhoff, 2000; Lichter and Crowley, 2002; Orfield, 1997). These processes include middle-class flight, dis-investment in inner city areas, and poverty concentration. Moreover, they involve factors such as access to transportation, jobs, and social services that are also effectively addressed at the regional level. For example, research shows that poverty is less concentrated if low-income housing is provided in a desirable location, if training and job placement programs are provided for low-income households, and if a critical mass of non-subsidized units is maintained in the area especially for an intermediate income range (Brophy and Smith, 1997). The charge to the committee and the principal aim of this report is to provide perspective and guidance to the PD&R about current and future GIS research and applications and to provide strategic direction for HUD. Since HUD does not operate in isolation, the committee also considered the network of people who use HUD’s data for policy and research purposes. This group includes professors and students at colleges and universities, policy makers and analysts working for local governments, HUD program managers and research scientists, and neighborhood leaders and residents employed by community-based organizations. The committee heard presentations from and interviewed representatives from public, non-profit, and private sector groups at the national, state, and local levels (Appendices B and C). In addition, committee deliberations were informed by contributions from a wide variety of participants (Appendix A) in a workshop held at the National Academies on April 25-27, 2001 (Appendix B). Chapter 2 discusses HUD’s responsibility for providing accurate and relevant data on urban and community issues and identifies the development of national urban framework data layers as an appropriate goal for the agency. Chapter 3 examines programs and tools for disseminating information to a range of clients and partners in urban and housing policy arenas. Chapter 4 outlines a research agenda for PD&R that can support HUD’s mission. Chapter 5 discusses the role of partnerships for carrying out research and providing information for urban and community planning in the United States and abroad. The committee’s conclusions and recommendations to HUD for its urban and housing data and research agenda are detailed throughout the chapters. 10   In 1998, in the United States, urban poverty was 12.3 percent compared with 14.4 percent for rural areas, but because the population is 75 percent urban, there are more urban than rural poor in the United States (Brockerhoff, 2000).