Saturday, July 20, 2013

Homelessness Analytics Web Mapping Application Launched

The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice (SP2) and Azavea, an award winning geospatial analysis software company, announce the launch of the Homelessness Analytics web application. The new online database gives communities, organizations and individual's critical information on trends in homelessness among the general population and the Veterans, including factors related to homelessness and support services aimed at the homeless population.

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, there are more than 633,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the United States. The Homelessness Analytics application, developed in collaboration with the National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans (NCHAV) in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), with software built by Azavea, aims to enable the general public, researchers and homelessness program planners to fight homelessness by:

1. Understanding the demand for homeless services across time and place nationwide.

2. Identifying gaps between resources and need at a local level.

3. Visualizing the location of community and provider programs alongside data related to capacity, utilization and performance over time.

The application provides a feature-rich interface that offers easy access to data on the size of the homeless population and sub-populations as well socio-economic indicators that are related to homelessness gathered from dozens of data sources such as the American Community Survey, the Centers for Disease Control's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the Department of Veterans Affairs Homelessness Program Data, the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development's Fair Market Rents, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the U.S Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service Program. Users can manipulate these data by exploring maps, creating customized tables, and generating charts. They can download brief formatted reports that provide snapshots of homelessness, resources to address homelessness, and related socio-economic indicators for states and local communities. Data can also be funneled to spreadsheets or databases to conduct independent analyses.

Dennis Culhane, Professor of Social Policy at SP2 and NCHAV Director of Research, commented, "The Homelessness Analytics application provides an innovative new way to examine the problem of homelessness and is a terrific example of what can be achieved through collaborative efforts between academic and government partners. We are very excited about its potential to provide a range of stakeholders with actionable information that can be used to advance local, state and national efforts to prevent and end homelessness."

The Homelessness Analytics application not only provides access to data but also modeling and forecasting features that enable users to simulate expected changes in homelessness given changes in an underlying community level indicator. For instance, a user can model the relationship between median rent levels and rates of homelessness to better understand how changes in housing market conditions might impact homelessness.

"The Homelessness Analytics project is a great example of how the application of geospatial analysis can be used to not only describe a set of social conditions but also model, simulate and forecast the impact of policy decisions. We are excited to be able to combine our experience with design, geographic data and software engineering to addressing the challenge represented by homelessness in the United States," said Robert Cheetham, CEO and President of Azavea.

The Homelessness Analytics application is publicly available at:


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