Partnership for Bay’s Future and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Housing Readiness Report Version 2
Updated to include the latest housing data for all 109 Bay Area cities and greatly expanded resources for community involvement, the second version of the Housing Readiness Report can help influence housing policy for the next 8 years.
In the fall of 2022, Exygy released HousingReadinessReport.org in partnership with The Partnership for Bay’s Future (PBF) and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI). The Housing Readiness Report (HRR) is a comprehensive and easy-to-understand view of a jurisdiction's affordable housing progress. It provides housing advocates and community members with data, resources, and tools to track, monitor, and engage in their cities’ housing plans and policies to ensure equitable racial and economic outcomes.
The initial release included 11 Bay Area jurisdictions and their relevant housing information. With the success of the first release and the accompanying community trainings, we continued working with PBF and CZI to scale the Housing Readiness Report to include all Bay Area cities and counties.
The first release of the Housing Readiness Report came right before the start of the 6th cycle of the Housing Elements in California. Every 8 years, the state of California assigns a set number of new homes and how affordable those homes need to be that regions across the state must build - this is called the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). In order to meet RHNA goals, local jurisdictions develop policies and find developable land for new housing, and these plans are called the Housing Elements. The Housing Elements require cities to get input from their communities and have it approved by the state. The idea for the initial release was to provide a way for advocates and community members to understand the housing context of their cities, but also a path to get involved in their city’s housing planning.
The initial release of the Housing Readiness report allowed for months of collecting feedback from community members, housing advocates, and government officials in advance of the next housing cycle. Through this community input process, we learned that there needed to be more city-specific resources, and the data needed to be adapted in order to more accurately measure a city’s ability to meet its housing needs. This critical period of feedback collection set the stage for the next iteration of the Housing Readiness Report.
Our engineering team pieced together multiple new data streams from different sources to create a comprehensive view of a jurisdiction’s community conditions and its ability to meet its affordable housing needs. We explored and considered data from multiple sources that contextualized demographics, housing production, and Housing Elements status. Additionally, our team worked with California Housing and Community Development to publicly share new data that had previously only been internal. This was a huge step towards making critical housing information more accessible to the general public.
This newly aggregated data set includes all the new and relevant information and will continually update as the data changes. Data is only as important as the story it tells so we created new ways of visualizing the data as well that allowed it to be compared across jurisdictions and counties across the Bay Area.
The Rating System:
We asked for input from housing experts across the region about the initial Housing Readiness Report and one consistent piece of feedback we received was about the three-tier medal-based rating system. Users thought that the bronze, silver, and gold ratings weren’t a helpful classification system. As an agile and iterative team, we were able to quickly pivot and create a more accurate and useful system to measure jurisdictions for users. We conducted additional user research with advocates, city admins, and housing policy professionals to understand the pros and cons of the version one rating system and to validate the new product direction. This resulted in a redesigned interface that removed the medal system and instead focused on an objective and accurate view of cities' progress by improving the comparison functionality and adding five new data sources to all of the cities to add more context.
Iterative Website Development:
The first version of the Housing Readiness Report was built for scalability which spring boarded the development of version two. With such a strong foundation in place, we worked with the client to change our initial approach from going deep on twenty cities to giving the most essential picture to all 109 cities. We created features to support additional cities and further improved the usage and value of the website by
Updating existing city and county-wide data to reflect the latest metrics available
Providing a more accurate list of policies each city has passed or proposed
Revisiting calculations to measure cities’ housing context based on community and user feedback
Creating an interactive map that allows for exploration of all Bay Area cities
CMS upgrades for backend management and sustainability
Similar to the launch of the first Housing Readiness Report, we are on track to create marketing collaterals, training formats, and post-training material to host and facilitate training sessions specific to each stakeholder group: government officials, housing advocates, and community members. As a tech agency, we work to provide services that meet the entire lifecycle of a project. We don’t want important and thoughtfully designed tools to not be used, which is why Growth as a Service is integral to the product life cycle.
The Housing Readiness Report is built to last. With data on all 109 cities in the Bay Area, an interactive map to explore housing information, a redesigned rating system, and an up-to-date robust data set, it will be able to educate and activate housing advocates for years to come.
At Exygy, this project will change our approach to data-centered product work by laying a roadmap of how to approach the validation and collection of diverse and complex data sets.
Since the launch, we have seen traffic double. More importantly, we have received feedback from advocates and housing employees that the tool is now fitting their needs. This results in advocates and residents holding their cities accountable to build affordable housing across the entirety of the bay area!