Household-level data advances Administration’s Open Government Initiative
WASHINGTON – In another effort to advance the Obama Administration’s Open Government Initiative, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today launched a public database to help the research community better understand the characteristics of households receiving assistance under the Department’s main rental programs. Read more about HUD’s new public data sample.
HUD’s new Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) database includes household-level data for five percent of households assisted through the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV), Public Housing, Section 8 Project-based Rental, and the Section 202/811 Programs. Updated annually, this database will not identify the households in the sample but will include data on family type, household income, race, gender, and other household characteristics.
“This public database helps to provide a much clearer picture of how our programs work,” said Raphael Bostic, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research. “Better information makes for better public policy. We’re offering the research community and, by extension, the American public, a more transparent window into our programs and the people we serve.”
In addition to household characteristics, the database will offer geographic details about where tenants live, including the state, whether the location is in a metropolitan area, whether the location is in an urban area, and the poverty rate for the location’s census tract.
With this household-level dataset, researchers can calculate results and statistical relationships at levels of demographic or geographic detail not available in HUD’s tabular reports. For example, the PUMS database contains data on the amount of adjusted income each family pays towards rent and utilities. The new public data reveals that 10.4 percent of HUD-assisted families living in rural areas pay at least 40 percent of their adjusted income for rent and utilities, compared to 8.8 percent of their urban counterparts.
HUD takes the protection of tenant privacy seriously. Therefore, no personally identifiable information will be released, such as social security
numbers, names, birthdates or addresses to assure that it will not be possible to identify any individual or household. HUD intends to limit the sample to just five percent of available data and will mask data for variables with a high identification risk. The sample size is large enough to be statistically valid and representative of states and the nation as a whole while small enough to preserve privacy.
Those who wish to access this new database will have to formally register. Users will have to provide their names, institutions and email addresses and certify that they will use the data for legitimate research purposes and will in no way use the data to try to identify households.