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It’s Good but Is It Right? An Under-the-Hood View of the Location Affordability Index
Housing Policy Debate
  • Joanna Ganning, Cleveland State University
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In 2012, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released the Location Affordability Index (LAI) as an online portal and downloadable data set. The LAI has elevated the U.S. conversation on affordability to include transportation and access to opportunities, and has been used in state and federal programming, by researchers, and by private households. However, although some researchers have noted concerns with and potential limitations of the data, none has provided practitioners and researchers with an under-the-hood view of the data, analysis of its reliability or validity, or its conceptual limitations. This article recommends methodological improvements dealing with issues of variable construction, aggregation, and modeling. A recreation of the LAI at the census-tract level suggests the LAI overestimates both costs and cost burden, but especially among renters, and especially in metropolitan areas. On the transportation side, model recreation requires partnership and resourcing to both gain access to restricted data and to develop a reliable database on transit supply and use.
Citation Information
Joanna P. Ganning (2017): It’s Good but Is It Right? An Under-the-Hood View of the Location Affordability Index, Housing Policy Debate, DOI: 10.1080/10511482.2017.1312478