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Why the most recent data doesn’t seem so recent

by Laura Williams, Center for Housing Policy

For the past several days, I have been updating some data files to the most recent available: 2010. If that gave you a bit of pause because, wait, isn’t it 2012? Then you know how I frequently feel – especially as I try to tell some of the organizations we work with regularly that, yes, that really is the most current file I just sent.

It can often be frustrating to not know what’s going on in housing right now. That’s one of the reasons why it’s often important for me to connect with practitioners. Someone working at the neighborhood or metro level often has a good feel for local market conditions that can pick up where the data left off. The two accounts together provide a richer description.

This is even more true from my vantage point in Washington. We look at a lot of national housing trends that we try to break down to state and local levels, but the real story behind the number of severely burdened households or low wages is best told by someone in the thick of it all.

One of the reasons we exist is because at the local level, many organizations do not have the capacity to develop detailed data sets or parse trends in the market. Our services such as and the Housing Research and Advisory Service can help to fill such holes, just as practitioners’ experiences help to inform our work back here.

But that’s why we need local practitioners. If the work is not getting done on the ground, it’s not getting done at all.

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