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HUD and the Census Bureau are redesigning the American Housing Survey. You will see some of the changes in the 2011 survey, more in 2013, and some dramatic changes in 2015. While many of the details are still to be decided and may be curtailed by budget restrictions, here is a look at our plans.

In 2011 and 2013, we will increase the number of metropolitan areas surveyed to 30 each year, for a total of 60. These 60 will then be revisited once every four years. The samples of 4,000 per area will also be used in the national survey, adding 120,000 cases per year. In the 2011 survey, the specific metropolitan areas will be chosen from the 47 that were recently in the AHS metro survey program. In 2013, we will broaden our scope to some that have never been in AHS metro surveys before.

We plan to streamline the AHS survey instrument. The core set of questions will be reduced, and we will institute a system of rotating topical modules that will appear in the survey over longer intervals. In 2011, we will omit the journey to work and neighborhood conditions questions from the survey. These will reappear in a new module on transportation and walkability, perhaps as early as 2013. The topical 2011 survey will feature a topical module on healthy homes and housing modifications to improve accessibility. Other topical modules under consideration include one on energy efficiency and one on disaster planning.
The 2011 survey will also see a redesigned mortgage module. We are including questions intended to capture the variety of mortgage products that are now available to house buyers.

After Decennial Census data are available, the 2015 survey will see the largest change of all. For the first time since 1985, we are planning to draw a new sample. A new sample will enable us to present our data in terms of current metropolitan geography, instead of the 1980-based areas that we are using today. It will finally give a rest to the returning respondents who will have been in the survey for as long as thirty years. We plan to structure the new sample so that we will be able to produce estimates at the Census Division level and for at least some states, instead of just at the Region level as we do currently.

As you can see, the next five years hold some big changes for the American Housing Survey. At the end, we will have a better source of lower-level housing data, on a larger range of topics, with less burden on the respondents.
Is anyone out there using AHS data to track trends of geographic areas toward desegregation? Or could you suggest an alternative? People seem to have lost interest. I am hoping for success stories.