RIHousing designed a PolicyMap widget for use by both elected officials and community members throughout Rhode Island. Through publicly available maps and data embedded in the RIHousing website
, residents can navigate to their neighborhood and explore local housing stock, housing cost, and demographics data. Public access to the PolicyMap maps and data shines light on the state of housing affordability, stock, and quality throughout Rhode Island.
Rather than spend hours downloading Census data and developing district-scale maps before meeting with a state representative, RIHousing researchers now use the same tool for internal reporting. Staff clicks on a district of interest, downloads a 2-page report, and comes well-prepared to public meetings and legislative hearings.
The RIHousing PolicyMap report is also used to test assumptions around affordable housing. One state representative required an accessible way to generate district-wide data – to argue, ‘yes, we do need affordable housing investment here – there are low-income families, they are cost burdened, and the cost burden has grown over time’. This reporting tool has allowed her to challenge perceptions of affluent communities in her district using the reality of what local data shows.
(Find more information of the $8.4 million grant from HUD here.