Why we need good housing data

July 19, 2023

A Meeting of the (Housing Data) Minds

We believe that data and technology—when developed and implemented with community needs at the center—can be powerful tools to ensure effective implementation of housing policy and help make housing a human right in California. That’s why we launched the Housing Data Initiative earlier this summer, to understand and close these housing policy gaps.

As part of this work, we partnered with the San José State University Institute for Metropolitan Studies to convene advocates, academics, government officials, funders, and tool builders for an in-person workshop and conversation about how we can build comprehensive and publicly accessible housing data.

We followed Chatham House rules to encourage frank discussion, so we won’t be sharing explicit quotes from this conversation. However, we still want to share some of the questions and takeaways from the discussion with you!

Guiding Questions of the Housing Data Workshop

Here are the questions we used to frame our conversation:

  • What gaps in housing data & tech infrastructure directly impact the work of advocates and policymakers?
  • Who builds tools that fill the gaps? Who uses them? How can we make them better?
  • What key data sets do we need to build or aggregate at the statewide level to empower the movement?

Themes & Takeaways

We heard from people all over the housing space, whose insights are shaping the work we’re doing with the Housing Data Initiative today. Here are our top three takeaways:

  • A fragmented landscape. The problem with the state’s housing data infrastructure is less that data doesn’t exist and more that it is fragmented and hard (at times impossible) to use at scale in a meaningful way.
  • Organizational capacity. Lack of capacity—people, funding, infrastructure—at all levels, including advocacy organizations, government, and academia, makes it hard to build cross-sector collaborations.
  • Key data gaps. There are some areas where there is a glaring lack of data, such as comprehensive, publicly available rental market and eviction data. Closing these gaps is critical to shoring up efforts to solve the housing crisis.

What’s Next

By advocating for transparency, accessibility, and completeness of our housing data & tech infrastructure, we’re strengthening the movement for housing as a human right. We’ll continue to convene a diverse group of housing advocates and experts to learn more and build the tools we need.

As part of the Housing Data Initiative, we’ve launched a research project into public rental datasets, building the case for comprehensive, accessible rental market data to support tenant advocacy and tenant protection policy.

Get Involved

Want to help? The Rental Data Scan project is currently underway, and we need your help with research, data wrangling, and more! Sign up to lend your skills to the initiative here.

Become a Civic Tech Volunteer

Join us on the Rental Data Scan civic tech project!

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