Equity Metrics

Affordable Housing Research

Equity Metrics engages in Affordable Housing research and advocacy, which broadly seeks to promote access to opportunity for people of color and other groups which historically had limited access to housing in amenity-rich neighborhoods. Our work involves both identifying “neighborhoods of opportunity” using spatial analyses and providing supporting research for governmental agencies in their duty to “affirmatively further fair housing,” as required by the 1968 Fair Housing Act.

This research is grounded in the “Opportunity Mapping” model that we have developed and refined over a number of years.  Opportunity is defined as the full set of pathways available to a person, where an individual can access resources to move him or her along these set of pathways. However, these sets of pathways are not always readily accessible or attainable due to the different types of social, cultural, and economic barriers in our society. Additionally, opportunity is inherently spatial in nature. Where we live determines our upward social mobility. Thus, the opportunity mapping methodology uses geospatial analyses and techniques to illuminate the ways in which structures and institutions promote or restrict access to opportunity based on their "situatedness". This comprehensive approach offers policymakers, stakeholders, and researchers a quantifiable measure of opportunity to direct public and private investments, and a strong visual that displays the regional pattern of distribution of opportunity.

This work has manifested in various ongoing and completed projects:

  • TCAC Opportunity Mapping: The Othering and Belonging Institute (O&BI) along with California Housing Partnership Corporation (CHPC) and the Terner Center for Housing Innovation (Terner Center) are part of the Fair Housing Task Force requested by California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) and California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (TCAC) to identify an appropriate data-driven tool for measuring and mapping opportunity within the state. This task force has conducted empirical analysis to identify high/low resource areas within California. TCAC used this analysis to develop regulations to improve the siting of Large Family Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) properties. O&BI have worked closely together over the last three years with other members of the California Fair Housing Task Force to update and refine these maps on an annual basis—selecting and adjusting indicators based on literature and data availability, refining the approach to measuring opportunity in rural areas, developing a new methodology to identify areas undergoing rapid change which may soon become high-opportunity, building a web GIS application to allow developers to interact with the data for their Large Family LIHTC Development proposals, incorporating suggestions and revisions based on comments received from the residents and policymakers and more. 
  • San Jose Affordable Housing project (ongoing): In collaboration with California Housing Partnership, Equity Metrics team is currently assisting the City of San Jose in generating affordable housing siting policy options in consultation with City staff and key stakeholders along the way. Affordable housing siting patterns are influenced by local factors such as land use and zoning, demographics, and the design of municipal housing funding and present unique barriers and opportunities to changing them, presenting a need for customized policy responses. As a part of this project, the Equity Metrics team will assist with a comprehensive review of local housing policies in the nation's leading cities, alongside research around the best data on the factors that aid in the upward mobility of the residents of the new housing developments. After aiding with the background research, Equity Metrics will use its expertise in data analysis and visualization to find the areas in San Jose that are best suited for affordable housing developments. Finally, Equity Metrics will assist in developing policy objectives and goals that are: 1) tailored to the City’s housing and neighborhood dynamics; 2) legible and easy to implement for City staff and stakeholders; and 3) rooted in evidence and best practices.
  • Disparate Impact: Equity Metrics team is engaged in this project with some specific research questions: Do land use policies further residential segregation? Do these policies have a disparate impact on racial minorities? How do we identify which policies have the potential of furthering income segregation and how do we measure the impact on racial and minority communities? Which policies can reduce barriers to inclusionary housing and provide opportunity-based housing choices to all communities? An aspect of fair housing work that HIFIS is embarking upon is to find the answers to these questions.