WES has acquired broad, varied, and comprehensive knowledge of housing and community development issues over the years. WES has evaluated and identified housing needs by tenure and by income; conducted original survey research and described the condition and detailed characteristics of the housing stock; and depicted the size, racial composition, income status, and ages of resident households. WES has also quantified future demands for housing by tenure and income of householders, portrayed needs of special populations, conducted market segmentation and analysis, assessed housing equity and facilitated the development of policy goals.
WES has extensive knowledge relating to research in support of housing development activities and in the establishment of performance measures to track progress toward strategic goals. WES understands how to blend high-grade quantitative analysis with key qualitative features, or the perceptions of need. Geographic areas of research have encompassed blocks, block groups, Census tracts, school districts, villages, towns, cities, urban counties, metro and non-metropolitan regions, and entire states.
A Consolidated Plan is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in exchange for funding of housing and community development programs. WES has successfully completed numerous Consolidated Plans for States, Counties, and Cities.
To compete a successful consolidated plan, a comprehensive study of the current conditions must be completed. This not only includes the analysis of current demographic and economic trends, but also analysis of Point-in-Time (PIT) homelessness counts and a complete Housing Needs Assessment.
WES has the expertise to assist with updating the Citizens Participation Plan (CPP) as well as the Annual Action Plan (AAP) and Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER), as well as entering the findings into IDIS.
Fair Housing Analysis
WES is expert at conducting Analysis to Impediments to Fair Housing Choice (AI) and Affirmation Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) reports. Using advanced data analysis and public involvement WES helps our clients to identify impediments to fair housing choice and the needed actions to overcome these barriers.
WES is fully versed in the AFFH data set, including Opportunity Indices, the Dissimilarity Index, Place of Birth and Limited English Proficiency. Wherever possible WES updates the HUD AFFH dataset with the most recent American Community Survey Data.
HUD complaint data is always analyzed as well as the Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS) data set. Although the CHAS data set is not required, it is extremely helpful to identify disproportionate needs among protected classes.
WES has prepared many of these analyses over the years. Along with the datasets mentioned above these studies also incorporate the Census Bureau Decennial Census, American Community Survey, Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), and capture the qualitative nature of citizen engagement activities.
WES will quantify actions that the jurisdiction can take to overcome the identified impediments, with specific measurement criteria. This incorporates surveys of residents, surveys of stakeholders, and the data for public housing authorities. This targets equity considerations, concentrations of poverty and racial and ethnic minorities, complications for protected classes, particularly for persons with disabilities, and unravels particular outcomes for representatives of state and local government.
Housing Needs Assessments and Forecasts
Housing Needs Assessments are an important part of the Consolidated Planning process as well as necessary to identify housing needs. By combining numerous data sources such as the Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS), with robust public involvement WES can identify housing gaps by tenure, income, and a variety of other households metrics.
If available WES can also analyze local assessor data to identify housing stock that may benefit from rehabilitation or demolition.
WES has prepared many forecasts of housing needs, incorporating data on household formation for both renters and homeowners by income. WES has also prepared assessments for special needs and other populations, and for demand of dwelling units by size. To predict household formation, population forecasts have been either developed or adopted from other entities. If such a forecast needs to be created, WES has done additional economic and demographic modeling, such as employment and income forecasts. Predicted income categories represent a percentage share of median family income.
WES inspects the economic complexity of the state, local, and regional economies; assesses the comparative advantage of key industries; evaluates the industrial linkages within the regional economy; and determines the need for particular types of economic growth.
This type of analysis includes assessing income and the needs for growth in earnings as well as economic impact, which determine both the direct and indirect effects of particular economic development options and related infrastructure requirements. These issues relate to the ability of households to afford housing—and at what cost.
This type of service also incorporates evaluating the overall vitality of a geographic area, including determining the community’s economic status today and the direction in which the community may be headed. This aids in the development of strategies for improving the economic climate.
Housing and Community Development Surveys
WES has designed mail, telephone, online, and on-site surveys to assess housing and community development needs. In one instance, 4,000 surveys were sent to randomly selected citizens. The surveys related to the respondents’ housing; housing conditions; fair housing compliance; and housing affordability, availability, accessibility, and suitability. Respondents’ opinions regarding attributes of their community were solicited as well. WES’s mail surveys have attained response rates as high as 63.7 percent. WES routinely conducts telephone surveys that collect rental information, with some surveys targeting more than 120,000 units. WES processes all data, performs the analysis, and presents results depicting attributes and perceptions of the surveyed population in terms of housing and community development needs.
Citizen Involvement and Public Presentations
WES offers the option of public and citizen involvement processes for all of our work products. Typically, these processes include the facilitation of focus groups, presentations of preliminary findings to public officials, group facilitation settings, public input sessions, stakeholder interviews, participant surveys, and even formal speeches at conferences or interviews with mass media. WES encourages such involvement as a key portion of public policy design and responsible public leadership.