Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

New HUD/USPS Data Set


HUD Aggregated USPS Administrative Data On Address Vacancies

HUD has entered into an agreement with the United States Postal Service (USPS) to receive quarterly aggregate data on addresses identified by the USPS as having been “vacant” or “No-Stat” in the previous quarter. HUD is making these data available for researchers and practitioners to explore their potential utility for tracking neighborhood change on a quarterly basis. The potential power of these data is that they represent the universe of all addresses in the United States and are updated every three months. Under the agreement with the USPS, HUD can make the data available publicly at the Census Tract level provided users agree to the terms and conditions of the click-on sublicense.

The basic data being provided by the USPS are:

  • Total Number of Addresses - This reflects all addresses (residential and commercial) that USPS has recorded in their database.
  • Total Vacant Addresses - These are addresses that delivery staff on urban routes have identified as being vacant (not collecting their mail) for 90 days or longer.
  • Total No-Stat Addresses - There are many reasons an address can be classified as No-Stat, including:
    Rural Route addresses vacant for 90 days or longer
    Addresses for businesses or homes under construction and not yet occupied
    Addresses in urban areas identified by a carrier as not likely to be active for some time

While HUD is still exploring the utility of these data, it has identified the following items that may be of use to other researchers and practitioners:

  • Vacation/Resort areas have very high rates of vacant addresses.
  • Areas with high growth have high rates of No-Stat addresses as do areas of significant decline. One way to distinguish these two areas is by comparing Total Count of AMS Addresses between quarters. An increase in AMS addresses with a similar increase in No-Stat addresses likely reflects new construction/additions. No-Stats with a stable or reduced number of addresses probably reflect long-term vacant addresses.
  • In distressed areas, a reduction in total AMS addresses from quarter-to-quarter appears to be a strong indicator of where demolition is occurring. (Note that if a building is demolished to be replaced by another building, the address will likely be moved to No-Stat status and not be removed from the total number of addresses).

HUD is very interested in what other researchers/practitioners learn from using these data. Please send questions or comments to Todd Richardson with the subject line USPS Data.

Thanks to Peter Tatian and the NNIP listserve for the heads-up.


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