Locating Quality and Affordable Housing

Project Summary

  • Community Partner

    Housing Visions

  • Geographic Scope

    Syracuse, NY

  • Project Commence Date

    October 2011

Redrawing property boundaries required close collaboration with Housing Visions staff and specialized GIS parcel fabric tools.

Building new quality and affordable housing is a crucial component of reviving neighborhoods in many U.S. legacy cities. Yet housing is but one component of a comprehensive revitalization strategy that has any long-term positive effect on quality of life. Housing Visions is a not-for-profit agency in Syracuse, NY working to sustainably revitalize neighborhoods by working block by block to build high quality homes for low-to-moderate income families while also delivering community programming to improve the socioeconomic fabric of neighborhoods. Mapping is a powerful tool for organizations like Housing Visions that need to assess the current landscape of neighborhoods, make strategic decisions about where to direct their efforts, and to demonstrate their neighborhood impact.

In fall 2011, Housing Visions collaborated with Community Geography to create comprehensive and up-to-date maps of the nearly 1,000 housing units that they manage and maintain in 3 distressed Syracuse neighborhoods. The goal of these maps was three-fold; (1) demonstrate their neighborhood impact, (2) provide agency staff a visual inventory of the organization’s full portfolio of housing projects, and (3) assist prospective housing applicants in locating particular properties.

Community Geography Graduate Research Assistant, Thor Ritz, spearheaded the project. He began the project by obtaining a spreadsheet of existing properties managed by Housing Visions. The data were cleaned, mapped using ArcGIS software, and then cross-checked with parcel data provided by the City of Syracuse. The maps required significant manipulation because the city’s property base maps have not kept up with new construction. Since Housing Visions often purchases several properties or neighborhood blocks at a time, and then reconfigures property boundaries for new housing lots and units, the city’s parcel map boundaries were often incorrect. Working closely with staff from Housing Visions and using GIS parcel fabric tools and aerial imagery, Thor was able to draw accurate property boundaries for Housing Visions.