PolicyMap users dial up data

Philadelphia Business Journal – by Peter Key Staff Writer

Last November, the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation committed $150 million to preserving and improving at least 300,000 units of rental housing throughout the country.

To get information about the neighborhoods that are home to units it has funded or is thinking of funding, the foundation subscribes to a Web site launched in May by the Reinvestment Fund, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that provides funding and research for revitalizing distressed neighborhoods.

Called PolicyMap, the site allows users to call up and filter reams of data on the characteristics of areas ranging in size from individual neighborhoods to the entire country.

“We can see if the units we’re preserving … are matching neighborhoods that are the most needy,” said Jerry Huang, the MacArthur Foundation’s program officer for program-related investments.

The MacArthur Foundation is among the nearly 100 premium subscribers who pay $5,000 a year to access PolicyMap. That price allows them to access all the public data on the site, including data that PolicyMap pays for. They also can upload their data to the site and determine how many, if any, other users they allow to see it.

“It’s our hope that as much data as possible can be made available to the public,” said Maggie McCullough, PolicyMap’s director.

Click here to read this article which appeared in the Philadelphia Business Journal on Friday July 11, 2008.