Points to Consider in Consolidated Plan Survey

  • It is important to remember that the survey is not “neutral.” It collects demographic information (age, race, ward, income, living situation) to construct profiles of who is prioritizing what, and how different people perceive priorities. This also extends to the questions themselves, which are set to elicit specific answers and data in a controlled way. It is important to take that context into account when considering each question.
  • One clear issue right from the start is the location identification. The survey will routinely ask about your “neighborhood,” but the only identification you give on your location is your Ward. This is particularly important because there are distinct differences between parts of a Ward. At several points the survey asks respondents to rank their needs for a number of services as low, moderate or high. Evaluating the survey results on the basis of how someone often thinks about their “neighborhood” or immediate surroundings consequently can be misleading.
  • For instance, one study estimates that roughly 22,000 more affordable housing units are needed – a figure that is most likely understated. Thus, to meet a challenge of this scale, every ward clearly has a high need for affordable housing. The same can be said of things like regulatory enforcement, something that the entire city has a “high need” for.
  • Therefore, answering the questions it is important to think of the varying differences between different parts of respondents' own Wards and things that are relevant city-wide when ranking a low, moderate, or high “need” for a particular service.
  • These variations can be significant all across the District. In Ward 7, one of the most impoverished Wards, there are neighborhoods where poverty is 17% and others where it is 31%. Ward 6 has neighborhoods with 16% poverty and 4% poverty. Similarly wide swings can be seen in the majority of Wards. This under-girds the basic error behind the study's assumption that ward and neighborhood can be treated interchangeably.
  • Ultimately, to evaluate each area's “need” for particular services, you have to get into the data, but if this survey does not offer the proper insight, where is it?
  • If you are curious about some more of the raw numbers as to the depth of our affordable housing crisis, try these links: http://justicefirst.nationbuilder.com/housing; http://www.dcfpi.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Going-Going-Gone-Rent-Burden-Final-3-6-15format-v2-3-10-15.pdf
  • Wondering how many vacant properties there may be in your ward? Look here: http://dcra.dc.gov/publication/blight-and-vacant-buildings-list
  • Figuring out the socio-economic statistics of both Wards and Neighborhoods can take a little more work. For a decent overview of the poverty situation in DC as a whole and by ward, see : http://www.dcfpi.org/poverty-rates-remain-high-for-some-groups-of-dc-residents. To go more in-depth you can use the Census Bureau’s American Fact Finder: http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml. If you combine some statistical area’s that roughly correspond with Wards (PUMA’s) and the various Census Tract’s that roughly correspond to neighborhoods you can get detailed data that can help you understand the geographic distribution which that makes D.C. the 5 worst city in the United States in terms of income inequality.


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