HUD Multifamily Properties: We’ve Made Some Improvements

HUD Multifamily Properties is a monster of a dataset. I mean that in a good way. It combines data on multifamily subsidized properties from three different sources, in order to provide a complete picture of the companies maintaining the sites, the people living in them, and the sites’ physical conditions. It’s a one-stop-shop for HUD multifamily data.

It’s also a monster to process. Though the data comes from three sources, it comes in five databases. Two of the databases don’t report data for properties, but for contracts. In some cases, there are multiple contracts per property. All of the Picture of Subsidized Households data, which shows demographic information about the people that live in the properties, is reported at the contract, not property level. So it’s complicated. Continue reading

Posted in Data & Features, Dataset Announcements, Housing, Taxonomy | Leave a comment

Adding website links to your datasets for the Data Loader

If you’ve used the Data Loader, you know how simple it is to upload a spreadsheet of addresses and have it display as points on a map. The process is easy and we only require a few pieces of data (address, city, state, and/or zip code) to geocode an address, which means users can upload any other data for each address as needed. From dates, names, dollars, and titles, we have given users the option to upload almost any data for an address.

One of the more unique fields when uploading data is the “website” field. This field, once uploaded through the Data Loader, will be an active link in the Info Bubble which will open to that website.
Website Link via Data Loader

To get started, you simply need to add an additional column in your spreadsheet and label it “website“. For each address, you would add a website URL like so;
Spreadsheet Layout

      Please note, URLs must start with the “http://” to be active on PolicyMap. The example text in red above will be displayed as text only and not be an active link to the website.

Continue reading

Posted in Data & Features, Data Loader, Spreadsheet Data Loader, Support | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

FY2014 HUD CDBG Eligibility and CPD Appropriations Data on PolicyMap

As always, we are keeping busy at PolicyMap with lots of data updates! We are very excited to let our users know about updates to several datasets from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). First of all, we expanded upon the recent Low and Moderate Income Summary data update so that the FY2014 data now displays not only at the block group level, but at the census tract, city and county boundaries as well. The data at these additional geographies were provided directly by HUD.

Secondly, we are pleased to let our users know that we have updated the Community

These are not CDBGs

These are not CDBGs

Development Block Grant (CDBG) eligibility status data layer, which shows whether block groups are eligible for CDBG funding in FY2014. Block groups are deemed eligible if at least 51% of the residents are of low or moderate income (meaning that their income is below 80% of the Area Median Income). Additional block groups are eligible if they are inside the boundary of an “exception grantee” and meet a separate threshold of low and moderate income persons. Some block groups are partially eligible, meaning one or more parts of the block group is not eligible. This is the first year this data is available at the 2010 block group boundaries.
Continue reading

Posted in Data & Features, Dataset Announcements, Federal Guidelines, Taxonomy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

PolicyMap Webinar: Easy Mapping for Public Health Insights, 11/06

In this session, we will walk through how a user can create assessment areas, collect data for those areas, generate compelling maps, and more!  We will review some of the datasets you might use as well as a number of the unique features on PolicyMap.

Sign up for the webinar, 1-2PM EST, 11/06  

Public health professional use PolicyMap to:

  • Quickly pull data for your CHNA (Community Health Needs Assessments)
  • Analyze the existing public health infrastructure in relation to demand for services
  • Create rich maps and reports in minutes – no GIS training required
  • Download our data, upload yours, and share internally among your epidemiologists and researchers
  • Access the largest place-based data library on the web – one source for all your public health research needs

If you have questions before the webinar, please contact us at!

Posted in News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Just in time for Halloween: Here comes the Tax Man

Goblins! Witches! Zombies! Werewolves! This time of year we hear a lot about scary things, so here at PolicyMap we thought we’d celebrate with something truly bone-chilling. Yep, you guessed it. Here comes the Tax Man.

Just in time for Halloween, we have added IRS tax data to our platform. While we all fear the reaper as tax returns come due, it turns out our tax data provides some very interesting data and maps. Now on PolicyMap you can find information on tax returns, exemptions, adjusted gross income, and tax liability in communities across the country. This dataset also includes details about tax credits and deductions. Some examples of what you can now map include: student loans, mortgage interest, sales and real estate taxes, child credits, dependent care expenses, unemployment compensation, retirement contributions, and how much people are withdrawing from retirement accounts. We’ll quickly highlight two of these indicators here, and leave it to you to login to PolicyMap to check out the rest under the Incomes & Spending data tab.

Continue reading

Posted in Dataset Announcements, Incomes & Spending, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mapping Community Development Loans with PolicyMap

When PolicyMap was first conceived by The Reinvestment Fund (our parent organization), it was envisioned as a tool to help Community Development Finance Institutions (like TRF) do research for their lending activities. Community Development Finance Institutions (or CDFIs) are financial institutions that make loans in low-income (or otherwise underserved) markets. PolicyMap could help answer questions like: Where are underserved communities? Where can investment create successful development? What kind of investment would be most helpful?

For example, if a neighborhood lacks a supermarket, a CDFI can use PolicyMap to see where existing supermarkets are, and whether the neighborhood will be able to support a supermarket if it gets built. Or if an area lacks affordable housing, a CDFI can use PolicyMap to see if a new housing development will benefit the community.

Since PolicyMap started, our user-base has gone way past CDFIs, but our latest project harkens back to these beginnings, with the OFN Coverage Map.

The Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) is an umbrella organization of CDFIs, and they wanted to answer another set of questions: Where are CDFI investments being made? And where are they not being made? Where should existing CDFIs focus new efforts, and what areas have been successful so far? To answer these questions, they’re using PolicyMap to show where loans have been made by CDFIs across the country. Continue reading

Posted in Data & Features, News, Online Buzz, Widgets | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How do you count a No-Stat address, anyway?

PolicyMap’s postal vacancy data from Valassis Lists has three different measures of vacancy that stem from how the USPS carriers track addresses. The most common type of vacancy is non-seasonal; this is a home or business that’s expected to be occupied year-round. A property can also be seasonally vacant, if it is a vacation home or a business that only operates for part of the year, such as a ski lodge or frozen custard stand. The third category is No-stat. These addresses aren’t actually counted as “vacant,” so what are they, how did they get into the data, and why do they matter?

No-stat is an umbrella category for addresses that the postal service considers unlikely to have mail delivered for one of several reasons. The chart below shows the percent of all addresses considered No-stat in the city of Houston, two ZIP codes within the city (77006, between downtown Houston and the Texas Medical Center, and 77004, in the Third Ward neighborhood), and the county of Colorado TX, just outside the expansive Houston metropolitan area.

Continue reading

Posted in Data & Features, Housing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Location Affordability Version 2: Better Than the Original

Brand new datasets are great. When HUD’s Location Affordability data came out last year, we couldn’t wait to add it, because of how simply it illustrated the impact of housing and transportation costs on the budgets of various household types.

What’s better than new datasets? When a new dataset is so useful, its creator decides to make it better. And that just happened with Location Affordability. Soon after the original Location Affordability was released, HUD arranged a conference call of the data’s key users, which we participated in. Based on the feedback from that call, HUD made some significant improvements.

Version 2 of Location Affordability uses new methodology to produce more accurate estimates of housing and transportation costs, so this data which was pretty neat to begin with is now even more powerful. The specifics of the update are pretty wonky, but if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably pretty wonky too, so here are the highlights of the new version, according to HUD:

  • Moving to a Simultaneous Equation Modeling (SEM) approach from Ordinary Least Squares regression: SEM better incorporates and accounts for interaction effects on the model’s dependent variables, resulting in a model that has greater econometric validity
  • Adding variables for housing stock: the model now includes variables for percent of single-family detached housing units and the number of rooms per dwelling unit
  • Adding variables for local commercial amenities
  • Splitting population data by tenure (renter vs. homeowner)

And whereas version 1 covered 94% of the country’s population, version 2 covers 100%.

Also, very importantly, the household types have changed significantly. The affordability data is calculated differently for different households according to number of people, income amount, housing needs, transportation needs, and more.

These are the new household types:

Median-Income Family 4 Median Income for Region 2
Very Low-Income Individual 1 National Poverty Line 1
Working Individual 1 50% of Median Income for Region 1
Single Professional 1 135% of Median Income for Region 1
Retired Couple 2 80% of Median Income for Region 0
Single-Parent Family 3 50% of Median Income for Region 1
Moderate Income Family 3 80% of Median Income for Region 1
Dual-Professional Family 4 150% of Median Income for Region 2


This data is free to the public, and is in the Incomes & Spending menu, under “Additional Income & Spending Data”.

Posted in Data & Features, Dataset Announcements, Incomes & Spending, Taxonomy | Tagged , | Leave a comment

New Unbanked Data on PolicyMap!

Have you been to your local bank branch lately? Perhaps withdrawn money from your checking or savings account using an ATM? Many of us who have a relationship with a traditional financial institution may take it for granted, but a lot of people are without access to these institutions. Growing attention is being paid to households who are considered “unbanked,” meaning the household lacks any kind of deposit account at an insured depository institution, or “underbanked,” meaning the household has a checking and/or savings account but has also used alternative financial services (AFS) at least once in the previous year. In light of the growing interest in this area, we are pleased to announce that we have recently added state and metropolitan area level data from the 2011 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households to PolicyMap.
Continue reading

Posted in Data & Features, Dataset Announcements, Lending, Taxonomy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

PolicyMap Wins Gold Stevie Award for Web Programming/Design

Philadelphia, PA – 10/15/14 – PolicyMap was named the winner of a Gold Stevie® Award in the Best Web Software Programming/Design category in The 11th Annual International Business Awards today.

More than 3,500 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were submitted this year for consideration in a wide range of categories, including Company of the Year, Website of the Year, Best New Product or Service of the Year, Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year, and Executive of the Year, among others. PolicyMap won in the Best Web Software Programming/Design category.

Its first major redesign effort since launching in 2008, PolicyMap is now faster and easier to use, making community and market data more accessible and visually compelling through maps, tables, reports and analytic tools. PolicyMap is a division of The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), a nonprofit leader in the financing of neighborhood revitalization since 1985.

“We exist on the premise that you shouldn’t need to be an expert to understand important data about your community,” says PolicyMap President, Maggie McCullough. “Our gratitude to the International Business Awards for recognizing PolicyMap’s innovation in web programming and design – and for promoting our belief in the power of information to drive change.”

Stevie Award winners were selected by more than 250 executives worldwide who participated in the judging process from May through early August.

Details about The International Business Awards and the lists of Stevie Award winners are available at

For more information:
Jonah Taylor


About PolicyMap
At PolicyMap, we believe in the power of data to create change in communities and markets. To drive insight in a fast-paced world, your local data needs to be immediately available and visually compelling. PolicyMap saves you time, money and frustration by unifying the web’s largest place-based data library – including incomes, health and education data – with easy-to-use maps, tables, reports and analytic tools. PolicyMap is a division of The Reinvestment Fund, a nonprofit leader in the financing of neighborhood revitalization since 1985. Learn more at

 About the Stevie Awards
Stevie Awards are conferred in six programs: The International Business Awards, The American Business Awards, the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, and the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.  The sixth program, the German Stevie Awards, opens for entries on 18 August.  Honoring organizations of all types and sizes and the people behind them, the Stevies recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide.  Learn more about the Stevie Awards at


Posted in News, News/Press Releases, Online Buzz | Tagged , | Leave a comment