PolicyMap User Spotlight: Analyzing Rural Housing Needs at USDA

PolicyMap is engaged in a partnership with the USDA’s Rural Housing Service to help them answer their most pressing policy questions. We worked with them and wrote a blog post to talk about the project.

USDA Rural DevelopmentFollowing 2015, it was clear to USDA’s David Lipsetz that his agency, Rural Housing Service (RHS), was performing well. A conservative Congress had entrusted RHS with historic funding levels of over $100 billion to invest in housing and community facilities across rural America. RHS was helping more families buy homes, and more small towns build health clinics, than at any time in its history. And best yet, the loans were performing better than projected. Defaults were down and dropping, revenues were growing for local governments, and equity was accumulating for even the lowest income homeowners.

Yet it was also clear to David that bigger programs will bring more scrutiny, demands for more reporting and oversight, and most importantly a need to show the positive impact of these record investments. PolicyMap was the perfect option for USDA Rural Housing Service.

With PolicyMap, RHS is able to map public investments in rural communities to create a visually meaningful representation of its work. With these maps, the federal government can make better analytical decisions about how investments should be made, and more effective reports to track the work as it is getting done.

PolicyMap will also act as more than just an internal tool for RHS. The agency now has a user-friendly platform for a variety of stakeholders to learn about public investments in rural communities. PolicyMap helps RHS help the public to see Multi-Family, Single Family, and Community Facility Program investments against the spectrum of PolicyMap indicators ranging from renter cost burdens, to HMDA home purchase prices, to critical care hospital locations.

RHS will now have data in one place and accessible through a robust and user-friendly tool. PolicyMap makes it all accessible by RHS headquarters staff and USDA field offices throughout all 50 states and territories. The agency will be able to instantly generate internal reports on any area, and PolicyMap will allow them to streamline tracking of properties and program evaluation efforts.

PolicyMap is thrilled to be a part of this exciting initiative to visualize the newly publicly available data from the USDA and to help the USDA Rural Housing Service to make data-influenced decisions.