SULINGITUK GOVERNMENT: Improving housing data quality

Fictional Case Study

Sulingituk Government recognizes the impact that safe, suitable, and accessible housing has on the well-being of a community. They have committed to creating a 20-year plan for housing development. As part of the plan, Sulingituk has identified the need to conduct a housing needs assessment; however, the poor quality of their existing housing data makes it challenging to conduct the assessment.

The housing needs assessment requires an understanding about both the number of families that need housing (i.e., the “waitlist”), and the demographics of those households (the number of people, their age, and gender). However, the waitlist has only the names of a household head plus a number of people in the family, but no current information about the composition of their household. Sulingituk had more complete data about those families currently occupying the housing they provide, but it is out of date, as they have not consistently collected data on household demographics.

Using the information they currently have, Sulingituk tries to calculate how many units and the type of units they will need in the next 20 years. They realize that due to their limited household demographic data, it is extremely challenging to forecast future housing needs. For each household on the waiting list, they don’t know if they will need a four-bedroom family house, a two-bedroom townhouse, or something else. Without knowing how many children are in each family, along with their ages and genders, it’s hard to know how many bedrooms are needed in order for a housing unit to be suitable. In some cases, there may be grandparents living with the family, but this data is not included on the waitlist (and would be very important for features like accessibility, stairs, washrooms, etc.).

To calculate future housing needs, Sulingituk would also need to assess the state of its current housing units. They will need to know how many units will need to be replaced in the near future, and what type they are (2 bedroom townhouse, 4 bedroom family house, etc).  Sulingituk has a list of currently needed repairs, but not a detailed assessment of the lifespan of each of its units, and when they should expect to be replaced.

To address these data gaps, Sulingituk conducted a survey of all the households on their waitlist to get updated demographic information, and conducted a thorough assessment of existing units to identify which ones will need to be replaced. Sulingituk also realized they did not have a reliable population growth forecast, other than looking at trends in numbers from recent years. They hired an expert to do some population modelling of high, medium, and low growth scenarios. They also launched an online and mail survey of all their citizens living outside the core community, to gauge how many people would want to move to the core community if adequate housing was available. Almost half their members live outside the Sulingituk core community, and they found that about ⅓ of these people said they would move to the community if they could. This significantly added to the forecasted need.

Housing Needs Assessment – Factors to Consider:

  • Suitability – how many houses and of what type are needed? Smaller townhouses, large family homes, elder accessible homes? Depends on demographics of people awaiting housing.
  • Population Growth – what are low, medium, and high growth scenarios? What might affect growth in the future?
  • Citizens moving to core communities – how many want to move there today? What might affect this in the future?
  • State of current housing stock – what is the lifespan of current units, how many will need to be replaced in the near future?

Back to Data Quality

More information about the fictional Sulingituk Government.