A Housing Needs Assessment is a document required to inform and qualify any type of real estate development. Any new development must align with the needs of a community, and the assessment can help demonstrate this alignment to community members, funders, and other key stakeholders. Only by accurately identifying said housing needs can we continue to develop a project concept, confirm project needs, and revise.

 

image

 

It’s important to identify the key areas of our assessment. These include Study Area Context, Supply Analysis, Demand Analysis, and Gap Analysis.

 

image

 

To begin, the Study Area Context section is where you will provide information and context on the site location as it relates to major centers, goods and services, the location history, and any local industries. Make sure to identify community trends, including economic events, current housing systems in the community, and population trends. Lastly, a good Study Area Context section will include key demographic info such as household types, incomes, age demography, etc.

image

 

The next section of your assessment, a Supply Analysis, will break down the existing housing supply by key characteristics. Those could include tenure, unit types, rents, vacancy rates, and any other relevant information. You want to show the existing housing supply as it relates to your future development.

 

image

 

Next, you must perform a Demand Analysis. The focus of this section is to robustly identify and understand the housing needs of the community. A few key variables to consider include:

  • Adequacy – is the state of housing adequate in terms of age, upkeep with major repairs, etc.?
  • Suitability – is the housing suitable to meet the demand, in terms of housing diversity/type (apartments vs ground oriented), number of bedrooms (to avoid overcrowding), accessibility, etc.?
  • Affordability – are the average monthly housing costs such that people are overpaying for shelter, what proportion?
  • Counts & estimates – Homeless counts, shelter occupancy rates, core needs estimation (i.e., how many homes are required to address the need?)

 

image

 

Lastly, you must identify what the community is missing in a Gap Analysis. This section relies on you identifying and quantifying the needs in your Demand Analysis that are unaddressed in your Supply Analysis. Consider the differences between supply and demand features such as housing type, demographic-specific housing, etc.

 

image

 

The aforementioned four sections are vital to delivering a complete and useful housing needs assessment. While it is unlikely a single project will address all the needs of a community, your work can serve to inform additional development to meet the identified gaps. Completing this assessment will help qualify your project business case, support financing/lending, and create project confidence. Doing this well will almost guarantee a stronger project and point you toward a successful development.

Panel Discussion: Federal Budget 2024 & Affordable Housing

Join  us at our latest panel discussion on the federal budget and what it means for affordable housing!