NAHB Prevails in Keeping Vital Census Data on Housing Markets
NAHB scored a substantial victory earlier this month by heading off a Census Bureau proposal that would have made it more difficult for builders to gauge the demand for new housing in up-close locations.
In the middle of last year, the bureau had proposed increasing the population threshold from 600 to 1,200 residents in its definition of “block groups,” which are the smallest geographical units for which data is tracked.
As NAHB pointed out in comments on the proposal, members of the association have a strong interest in maintaining the availability of data at this level because it is essential for analyzing local housing market conditions. Data on the value of housing units, rents, incomes and other key variables are needed at a small enough scale to apply to typical subdivisions, NAHB argued in its opposition to the plan.
In the final criteria that will be used in the 2010 Census, the bureau announced on March 14 that it had overturned its original proposal. Had the population threshold been increased, as suggested earlier, the size of the average block group would have been drastically increased, essentially removing any distinction between those groups and tracts, which are subdivisions of counties.
Also, NAHB’s Housing Policy Department has been using Census block group data to show the cost of land-use restrictions, and to analyze the relationship between driving and subdivision densities. Producing these types of studies would have become difficult if not impossible under the proposal.
Elsewhere in its notices, the Census Bureau accepted an NAHB recommendation to base tracts and block groups on counts of housing units rather than population in some cases. This will be especially useful for gathering information on vacation home communities.
An NAHB recommendation to separate large bodies of water and parks from residential tracts and block groups in order to avoid giving a distorted picture of densities in residential areas was only partially included in the final criteria announced by the Census Bureau. Parks have been excluded from residential areas, but not bodies of water.
For more information, e-mail Paul Emrath at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8449.
Attend the Spring Construction Forecast Conference in April
Plan to attend NAHB's Spring Construction Forecast Conference on Thursday, April 24 at the National Housing Center in Washington, D.C. The conference brings together the nation's premier housing economists and finance experts for an in-depth examination of the economic outlook for the housing industry.
Can't attend? Watch the conference webcast live.
For more information, or to register for the conference or webcast, visit www.nahb.org/cfc.
Want to Know the Housing Forecast for the Top 100 Metros?
Find out in HousingEconomic.com’s 2008 to 2009 Metro Forecast (free preview).
Get the metro forecast with in-depth analysis, overviews and downloadable Excel tables.
To learn more, visit www.HousingEconomics.com.
Free NAHB Kit Gives Builders Back-to-Basics Tips to Navigate the Slowdown
What was once expected to be a relatively mild housing slump following three years of record new home construction and sales has given way to a significant downturn.
To help members navigate the uncharted waters of this slowdown, NAHB has compiled a comprehensive “Back to Basics” online toolkit — the best of the basics, the tried and true and the truly new. To access the toolkit, click here.
To access the “Back to Basics” toolkit, you must be an NAHB member and have a login to www.nahb.org. To create a login, go to www.nahb.org/login or click on the log-in button on the main menu bar.
For assistance, call the NAHB Member Service Center at 800-368-5242.