Housing Quality

When available, local housing code violation, property assessment, permitting, lien, and land bank data are good sources of information on housing quality; however, these data may not always be available or complete. Alternatively, American Housing Survey (AHS) data include measures such as an assessment of the overall quality of the unit, residents’ satisfaction with the unit, details on unit deficiencies (both inside and out; e.g., leaks, holes, crack, equipment breakdown) as well as deficiencies in common areas (e.g., nonworking light fixtures or loose railings); and general maintenance and repair information. However, AHS data are available only for metropolitan statistical areas and city cores, so does not provide neighborhood-level data often needed to design and drive programs. Generally, a combination of AHS data and local data provides the optimal mix for designing healthy housing interventions.

More specific local data can also be available through local healthy homes, health, and housing agencies; local nonprofit agencies; and universities. Many of these entities also often conduct studies and surveys of housing quality, blight, gentrification, and other factors impacting housing quality.

U.S. Census 
The U.S. Census is a primary source for population, income, housing, demographic, economic, and employment data. This resource offers a broad range of tools based on census data collected on a decennial basis, estimated data (five-year rolling), and surveys. Interactive applications allow users access to statistics from multiple surveys and well as to integrate and visualize data with geographic information system (GIS) mapping tools. Geospatial levels vary according to indicator. American FactFinder provides access to every data set maintained by the Census bureau. [url; U.S. Census]

American Housing Survey (AHS), 2013 Data
The AHS is the most comprehensive national housing survey in the U.S., conducted on a biennial basis by the U.S. Census for HUD. Data are available through both public-use files, which feature individual household responses to survey questions, and summary tables. AHS provides data on indicators such as leaks, pest infestation, heating, electrical, plumbing, or roofing problems, and more. The ZADEQ variable, found in the public-use file, provides an overall summary of housing quality. [url; U.S. Census, 2013]

  • 2013 AHS Fact Sheets 
    Two-page fact sheets created by the U.S. Census that provide snapshots of the national data and 25 metro areas covered by the 2013 survey [url; U.S. Census]

American Housing Survey: Basic Statistics for Healthy Housing
NCHH created this guide to using AHS data to assess healthy homes. NCHH reviewed the AHS to determine which data are directly related to health and safety issues, and developed a series of reports summarizing the national data, comparing data from the 2009 and 2011 surveys, identifying trends found in 47 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), and that compares the MSAs with nationally available data. To learn more about how to use AHS data, see NCHH’s Key Definitions in the American Housing Survey Related to Healthy Housing. [pdf]

HUD Data Set Reference Guide 
This matrix identifies publicly available data sets commonly used in housing research and rates them according to relevance and research usefulness. Short descriptions of each data set and information about its formats can be found in the Guide to HUD User Data Sets. [url; HUD]

State of Healthy Housing
An NCHH report assessing the housing conditions in the 54 metropolitan communities sampled by the American Housing Survey. Learn more about the report and its definitions of housing hazards. [url; NCHH, 2013]

A Measure of (Poor) Housing Quality
This is an alternative measure of housing quality using the AHS. Rather than a measure of housing “adequacy,” as found in the AHS, the authors developed a Poor Quality Index (PQI) using all of the AHS information available on housing deficiencies, which measures the level of physical deficiencies in sampled housing units. The broader range of deficiencies found in the PQI provides a more concrete assessment of quality between surveys. [url, pdf; HUD, 2013]

Healthy Housing Reference Manual
Although not a “data” source, this manual, developed by HUD and HHS, provides healthy housing background and identifies specific housing and health criteria that should be used to assess and monitor housing quality. [url, pdf; CDC, 2012]