Investigating housing

Follow along:

Behind the Section 8 Ball:



Tim Henderson


how to do it

  • Find your local HUD office and request a summary of Section 8 households by census tract
  • Click here for HUD public affairs national and regional offices
  • Expect trouble and delays.  Insist on a county identifier with the tract numbers.
  • Expect some old census tract numbers from 1990 or 2000 and handle them.
  • Use occupied housing units as a denominator.  Consider the possibility that new construction or demolition could be a factor
  • Also get Census demographics to gauge minority population, and rental % to gauge availability of affordable housing stock.

putting it all together

  • Mapping tracts is crucial to see patterns and identify tract locations. You can do it in Fusion Tab les
  • You may find tract maps on Fusion Tables, otherwise the Census has shapefiles here and KML files here
  • To make tracts more identifiable, find as many place names as possible. I used the University of Missouri's geocorrespondence engine here
  • Don't forget to include all tracts in your analysis. The ones with no Section 8 housing are important

Analysis tips

  • Find  majority-minority tracts and see what percentage of housing falls in those tracts.
  • Places with few rentals and little Section 8 may be discouraging affordable housing
  • Are there places with lots of rentals but little Section 8? What's up with that?
  • Where are the highest proportions of Section 8 housing?


  1. Journal News package PDF
  2. Jump/sidebar about Hasidic village
  3. Interactive map


By Tim Henderson


Section 8 Housing presentation, NICAR 2014 Baltimore

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