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This week, the Census Bureau released new three-year estimates from the American Community Survey (ACS). Data reflect population and housing characteristics between 2006 and 2008 and are available for all geographies with a population of at least 20,000. As such, three-year ACS estimates can produce some very valuable housing statistics for a great many metro areas, cities, and counties, including: monthly housing costs for renters and homeowners; percent of income spent on housing; and home values. One-year estimates from 2008 were released in August, if you are more interested in only more recent data for larger geographies (population > 65,000).

ACS data can be accessed through the Census Bureau's American Fact Finder website (http://www.factfinder.census.gov/servlet/DatasetMainPageServlet?_pr...) and more information on the ACS is available at http://www.census.gov/acs/www/. If you have any questions about the data or how you can use it, please feel free to contact me (kwardrip@nhc.org; 202-466-2121 ext 245).

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Keith thank you for posting this information. I wonder if there is any way to get information for smaller communities? Many of the issues that adversely impact lower income households in urban areas cause even more suffering in rural areas. The combination of higher energy costs, spatial mismatch of people/affordable housing, and the current economic crisis - are simply overwhelming many people in smaller towns. How can we use Census ACS data to understand what exactly is happening in these smaller communities?
Thanks, Mickey Carlson
Mickey, it depends on how you define "smaller communities." As I mentioned above, there are currently 3-year estimates available for places as small as 20,000. Next year, the Census Bureau will release 5-year ACS esimates for jurisdictions of all sizes. These estimates will be updated every year and will reflect the five most recent years of data available.
Allow me to define "smaller communities" more precisely: in the state where I live there are 300,000 people who live in 600 incorporated rural communities of fewer than 500 people. Will the ACS estimate next year address jurisdictions at that level? If not, is there any other public dataset that will do so? (Thanks and I promise this is my last post on this issue for awhile!)
Next year, the Census Bureau will publish ACS estimates down to the block group level, so as long as the Census Bureau recognizes these small jurisdictions, there will be estimates available. The only drawback is that the estimates will reflect five years of data (2005-2009). It's certainly better than nothing, and the estimates will be updated annually (i.e., a new year of data will replace the oldest, so that the release in 2011 will reflect 2006-2010 data). Feel free to contact me outside the Forum if you'd like more information (kwardrip@nhc.org; 202-466-2121 ext 245).


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