HUD/Census Bureau Releases Limited 2017 AHS Data

The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development released summary tables and microdata this week from the 2017 American Housing Survey. Commonly referred to as the AHS, this survey is a biennial look at in-depth information across many aspects of housing in the United States. 
The available data provide a deep dive into a range of topics from costs to neighborhood quality, and home improvement activities. For example, about 35% of households did some home improvement project over the past two years, something above and beyond basic home maintenance, with an average cost of $1,350 per project. The median rent of $850 is only $50 less than the median mortgage cost of $900 per month.

New for the 2017 survey is a section about disaster preparedness, which assesses the state of readiness across the nation for any natural catastrophe and provides useful information for FEMA and other emergency management agencies and care charities.

Responses show that less than 60% have at least three days worth of water (3 gallons/24 bottles per person) on hand in their home, but about 81% have enough non-perishable food for that same three days. 88% of homeowners polled stated that they would be able to afford the estimated $2000 cost of evacuation with the members of their household, as opposed to about 60% of renters. Less than 40% of two-plus person households have an agreed upon location at which to meet in the event of a natural disaster, and even less, only about 25%, have a communication plan if cellular phone service becomes unavailable.

Helpful for analysts of housing policy and budgets, the survey is also used by government agencies to assess housing needs and costs and to track supply and demand in the country. Researchers can access the individual answers in the microdata files, which is helpful for targeted studies of specific populations or those in particular areas. In addition to nationwide information, accurate data is available for the 15 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, with New York-Newark-Jersey City metro being the largest, down to Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA in 15th place.

Later in the year, the agencies will release further information for an additional ten metro areas and nine states. Additionally, there will be more breakdowns of data given on subjects ranging from the delinquency of payments to commutes. If you want to learn more, you can find the summary data tables with aggregated stats and microdata files on the Census Bureau’s website.

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