ACS Based FMRs Do Not Work Anymore

Here’s the 101:

FMRs: maximum payouts for Section 8 housing vouchers, set at a regional scale.

ACS: The Census data utilized to set these FMRs (generally on a 3 year lag, and the ACS itself is a compilation of five years of census gathering efforts).

Since some of the data used to set these thresholds is literally 8 years older than the year in which the thresholds are applied, many believe we need a new system for calculating FMRs.

If you’re not convinced… here’s all the evidence you need, from an enormous set of for-rent scrapings on San Francisco proper:


When Boeing and Waddell said there was only 1% affordability in the Craiglist’s postings in Manhattan (and similar places), I thought there must be something off about Craigslist.  When Deb Niemeier and I  looked at voucher access in 2012-13 it wasn’t that bad.  But the proprietary data for 2015 shows the exact same thing folks at Berkeley found via Craiglist:  Catastrophic loss.

-> and here I have to note that a small but meaningful segment of voucher affordable sites are probably never listed online or in newspapers, so there is bias yet in our ‘big data’ tools as well.

But the point remains: maybe we shouldn’t set policy using lagged data… (that itself is also a five year wave and is thus also lagged….!!!!!)


Published by mattdpalm

Doctoral Student UC Davis USDOT Graduate Eisenhower Fellow 2014-2015

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