Is Anybody Home? Surveys, Administrative Records, and Small Area Estimates of Housing Vacancy Rates

Warren A. Brown, University of Georgia

A key characteristic in housing demography is the vacancy status of units. The housing unit method for estimating population requires occupancy rates as input. Vacancy rates also serve as indicators of neighborhood decline and disinvestment; and absorption in high growth areas. Important differences exist between data sources regarding vacancy. The ACS uses a two month reference period for residency rather than the decennial census’ year-long reference period for “usual place of residence.” Two additional sample surveys, the CPS/Housing Vacancy Survey and HUD’s American Housing Survey use the same residency criteria as the decennial census. The Aggregated USPS Administrative Data on Address Vacancies define "vacant" as a housing unit that received mail in the past, “but is not currently occupied…and not currently receiving delivery.” This paper explores how these various data sources might be combined to yield improved small area estimates of housing vacancy/occupancy rates on an annual basis.

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Presented in Session 71: New Data Collection Methods and Data Systems