A household that is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless will likely receive help from a local housing or service provider supported with funding from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) grants funds to state and local governments to provide people with decent housing and economic opportunities. HUD rules describe a process called the Consolidated Plan, where funding decisions are based on an evaluation of needs and market conditions in each grantee’s jurisdiction.
HUD’s new eCon Planning Suite—which was rolled out to 1,200 grantees around the country in May 2012—is designed to meet the executive place-based directive by providing tools and data that all HUD grantees can use to make affordable housing and community development planning decisions. Among these tools is CPD Maps, a geospatial application that provides data and maps to help grantees understand how to target aid based on where needs are greatest. By providing tools that allow users to identify census tracts with particular conditions, grantees can find neighborhoods with the greatest needs. For example, grantees can now see concentrated poverty on the map.
HUD secretary Shaun Donovan says, “We know that in a time of huge budget cuts at the state and local level, it’s harder and harder to have the resources to bring that information together. This technology that we’re providing is going to be really revolutionary in helping all our grantees work smarter.”
CPD Maps is one of many applications hosted on HUD’s enterprise GIS platform, which is built on ArcGIS for Server and which is a component of CPD’s eCon Planning Suite.
The eCon Planning Suite provides an online Consolidated Plan template to guide grantees through an intuitive planning process. The template instantly imports information from CPD Maps about housing needs and market conditions into plans that can now be submitted electronically to HUD for review. This reduces grantees’ paper work burden, saves time and money, and creates a strategic road map for targeting federal funds where they can do the most good.
HUD’s GIS analysts used application tools in ArcGIS for Server to create CPD Maps, then used ArcGIS API for Flex to build a user-friendly web application to help grantees and the public use GIS technology to make planning decisions. CPD Maps users can perform queries of multiple variables, create thematic maps, and generate detailed reports. This functionality is supported by shared REST services, so CPD Maps applications can interface with other web services.
Anyone can use CPD Maps to map funded projects, neighborhood rents, economic need, and more. Grantees and the public alike can access CPD Maps from the HUD website, see where federal dollars are being spent, and identify neighborhoods with the greatest need. This information empowers the public to more effectively join the discussion about where federal investments ought to be made.
HUD’s CPD Maps is a perfect example of how organizations can use modern GIS software to customize routines and work processes that help users perform analysis and complete specific planning tasks within the template interface.
At the federal level, CPD Maps uses HUD’s enterprise GIS platform to analyze a national geodatabase, collate information from many resources, and create GIS tools that help grantees make decisions. CPD Maps can also be used to create a view of project locations throughout the nation. In addition, the platform provides a portal for sharing GIS information with other federal agencies, such as the US Department of Transportation and the US Environmental Protection Agency.