HUD is pleased to announce the publication of Version 3 of the Location Affordability Index (LAI)dataset. The LAI is a nationwide database of modeled household housing and transportation costs launched by HUD and DOT in 2013, and now updated, with the goal of providing greater insight into how these costs vary by geographic and household characteristics. Version 3 primarily uses data from the 2012-2016 American Community Survey (in addition to updating data from other Census products, the National Transit Database, and Illinois EPA odometer data) to synthesize a database covering all fifty states and the District of Columbia. Version 3 models the LAI at the Census tract level (rather than the block group level used in Versions 1 and 2) and includes income percentiles for each household profile relative to tract income distribution to help users better understand how applicable LAI estimates for each representative household are to any given Census tract.
The LAI has seen significant use since its initial release in 2013. Policymakers have used this data for local and regional transportation and land-use planning. It has also been used by a number of researchers for a variety of topics. In 2016 it was the focus of a special Location Affordability double issue of Housing Policy Debate, which included new research on the impact of location affordability on residential mobility (especially for low-income households and recipients of Federal housing subsidies); the effect of location affordability on mortgage default risk for low-income households; the role of location affordability in predicting regional real estate investment activity; and the role of transportation systems in housing affordability, with a particular focus on walkability and transit. Lastly, the LAI has proved valuable to software developers because it makes a large amount of Census data on demographics and the built environment available via web service.