Producing this report involves extensive data analysis across numerous sources and methodologies. This page provides an overview of many of the key sources and techniques required to complete the assessment and derive its recommendations.

CommunityScale accesses and analyzes public and private datasets to provide an overview of the demographic and housing stock conditions, which then inform scenarios for housing needs assessments. The data that are used to populate the charts in the report can be accessed within this shared workbook.

Inflation adjustment: Past ACS data on incomes and rents are typically delivered in current-year dollars. Where appropriate, CommunityScale inflation-adjusts past data to 2023 dollars according to the CPI to be able to assess trends in earnings and attainability.

Rebinning: ACS and other data sources are provided in pre-set ranges, also know as bins. CommunityScale has an approach to rebin the counts into new ranges that preserves the total quantity and quality of the data while fitting into new ranges, such as percent of regional median income.

Data import and processing



All other charts and tables in this section of the report are derived from the Census Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) which is much more granular and adaptable than typical Census American Community Survey (ACS) tables. 

The PUMS dataset is organized geographically into Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs) which typically conform to county geographies but often do not neatly align with municipal boundaries. This analysis utilizes the PUMAs that most closely align with the municipality's boundaries, including all municipal area but also some adjacent communities in certain cases. 

Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs)

The following PUMAs were combined to compose the dataset reflected in this section:

Analyzed ACS tables


The Place section includes two subsections that draw from a range of datasets to derive observations and findings.

Current housing mix

Analyzed ACS tables

Cost of housing

This subsection incorporates data from the Census as well as economics resources including the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (FRED) and Zillow.


How many units are needed?

The 10-year housing production target translates projected household growth plus the adjustment factors listed below into the number of housing units needed to maintain the existing housing supply and keep up with anticipated new demand.

Regardless of growth prospects or latent demand pressures, every local market should maintain sustainable vacancy rates and offer hospitable housing stock to best serve community residents. Some housing production is often necessary to keep each of these indicators in a healthy range. 

Analyzed ACS tables

What is the right mix?

The preference model combines several factors, each corresponding to a parameter of housing need.


ACS 5-year - American Community Survey 5-year estimates. Demographic and housing stock variables dating back to 2010.

AMI - Area Median Income. A metric calculated annually by HUD to determine income eligibility for housing programs.

Asking rent - The listed rental rate for vacant units on the market.

Attainability gap - Difference between housing supply and demand at each income level group.

Bedroom count - The number of bedrooms in a housing unit.

Cost burden - Spending more than 30% of household income on housing costs.

Cost burden, severe - Spending more than 50% of household income on housing costs.

CPI - Consumer Price Index. A measure of inflation.

FRED - Federal Reserve Economic Data. Provides recent data on rents.

Housing needs assessment - An analysis of a community's housing market to determine the current and future housing needs in order to guide planning and policy decisions.

HUD - U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Provides data on Area Median Income, housing permits, and more.

LIHTC - Low Income Housing Tax Credit. A federal program that provides tax incentives for affordable housing development.

Multifamily - A housing structure with multiple separate housing units, such as an apartment building.

NOAH - Naturally occurring affordable housing. Market-rate housing that is affordable to low- and moderate-income households without public subsidy.

Organic growth - The natural increase in households over time, excluding growth from major new developments or projects.

Overcrowding - Having more than one person per room in a housing unit.

PUMA - Public Use Microdata Area. Geographic areas that PUMS data is organized into.

PUMS - Public Use Microdata Sample. Detailed demographic data from the Census Bureau used to model regional housing preferences.

Purchase price - The sale price of a home.

Regional mover - A household that has moved into the region in the last 12 months.

Single-family - A stand-alone housing unit detached from any other house.

Substandard housing - Housing units that are inadequate or unsafe due to issues like incomplete plumbing or kitchen facilities.

Tenure - Whether a housing unit is owner-occupied or renter-occupied.

Townhome - A single-family attached home as part of a larger structure, sharing walls with other units.

Vacancy rate - The percentage of available housing units that are vacant or unoccupied. A vacancy rate of 5-6% is considered healthy.

Zillow - Real estate database providing up-to-date for-sale and rental housing figures.

Data sources

ACS 5-year: Latest-year demographic and housing stock variables, and referencing time series back to 2010 where relevant for trends.

CPI: Inflation adjustments for past data.

HUD: Area Median Income, permits

FRED: Latest data on rental information 

PUMS: Regional demographic details and housing preferences

Zillow: Latest for-sale and rental figures 

Local forecast (If applicable): States, regional governments, professional forecasters like Woods & Poole and other sources may be applied to create scenarios for the number of households in the future.