Child pages
  • Assignment 8- Hubbard

Kara Hubbard

Assignment 8

November 20, 2008

Assignment 8 - Project Flow Chart or Process Steps

1) Project Goals

For my project I am hoping to expand upon some work I am doing with the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston. The project I am working on is creating a timeline of land use regulations/policies that have contributed to housing segregation. I would like to supplement this timeline with some analytical maps. I think that maps would help to illustrate the geographic impact of land-use decisions in a very powerful way.  I plan to focus primarily on the difficulties that may exist for persons of color and for low-income families to gain access to areas of opportunity in Greater Boston. In particular I am hoping to look at the historical impact of the following elements: redlining, the strategic placement of public housing and other subsidized housing projects, the impact of Rte 128 & Rte 495, and the present impact of local land use regulations (such as zoning). My hope is to create some historical maps of where persons of color tended to live and compare it to the situation today. Have persons of color and families been able to take advantage of opportunities in the suburbs? And if they have, which suburbs and what is the racial breakdown there? Do racial enclaves still exist in Greater Boston today? What is the affect of strict land use requirements such as large lot size requirements, or minimal/non-existent zoning allowances for multi-family housing? Do these restrictions present an impediment to fair housing? Do municipalities with strict land-use regulations s have more or less diverse populations? Does Boston follow the typical pattern of white suburban areas clustering around urban “hubs”? And if so, what circumstances may be helping to perpetuate this?  Does racial isolation exist in low-opportunity neighborhoods? What role might strict land-use regulations play in creating barriers to these high-opportunity areas? Is subsidized housing located in areas of high or low opportunity?

***Based on our meeting I’ve slightly adjusted my project. Instead of focusing on historical maps I will analyze the opportunities to develop housing, perhaps affordable multi-family housing in particular, in areas of opportunity So, I will use the “union” tool to bring together the MassGIS land use layer and the opportunity maps. After using the union tool and putting the data into Access I will be able to analysis exactly what kind of land exists in each census tract- How much land is available for development? How much multi-family housing currently exists? I will then compare what is available to the land use regulations that each municipality has. For example, such an analysis can help determine which municipalities in areas of high opportunity have a lot of undeveloped land but also have strict land use regulations that would not allow for affordable, multi-family housing. I may still incorporate some of the elements below, such as looking at the location of LIHTC projects and the demographic make-up of areas of high opportunity vs. areas of low opportunity.

2) Project Steps


To conduct this analysis I will focus on mapping historical census data and the regulations database.


Step One: I will begin by putting together a set of good historical census data and maps illustrate housing segregation patterns. Perhaps looking at 1970-2000


Step Two: I will then compare this to the situation today, in particular by analysis the housing patterns in areas of opportunity. For this step I will bring in the opportunity maps as an overlay. 


Step Three: Using census data, I will look at the demographics in these areas- is there a pattern of segregation? I will look at race and lower-income families.


Step Four:   What are the affordable housing options in areas of high opportunity? For this step I will bring in the LIHTC layer from HUD and perhaps a list of public housing projects, if I can find one.


Step Five: What are the municipal land-use regulations in these municipalities? For this step I will bring in the tabular data from the Pioneer Institute and the MassGIS zoning information. I will develop a rating a system which will determine the degree of stringency of the regulations. After a quick spatial analysis, I can see if municipalities with strict land use regulations are in areas of opportunity or if there is no connection.


Step Six: I can hopefully do some data analysis to see if there is a correlation between strict land use regulations and accessibility for people of color and low-income families. I will run statistics to see what the racial and income breakdown is for towns with strict regulations, etc.


Hopefully, looking at the Boston metro data through time, I will be able to make connections between land use decisions and barriers to fair housing. 


2) Data layers and how they will fit into the future project


Census Data from MassGIS :  Census data layers for greater Boston will be used to assess the demographics of various municipalities. For example his data will help to determine if and where geographical segregation. By looking at the racial breakdown I can determine where any racial enclaves may exist. Other possibilities may include looking at homeownership rates by race, poverty rates, and perhaps household size.







Other potential census data layers, taken directly from U.S. Census:

Housing Patters (residential segregation)

Housing Affordability


2) Towns Poly I will need this to create the political boundaries of the municipalities I look at in greater Boston . One element of my analysis will be looking at land use regulations in each town, so I will need the boundaries to identify the various municipalities.


3) Opportunity Maps - I’ve received the shape file of the Boston opportunity maps. The attributes in included are quite extensive. Nineteen indicators of opportunity are used to assess “opportunity”. Some examples include: student poverty rates, school drop out rates, unemployment rates, population on public assistance, neighborhood vacancy rates, homeownership rates, etc.  These indicators were assessed separately in three overall opportunity areas (educational opportunity, economic opportunity, and neighborhood/housing equality). Indicators were determined to either be impediments to opportunity (i.e. high poverty rates) or conduits to opportunity (low unemployment rates). The information was taken at the census tract level. Each tract was given a rating of


5) Subsidized & Public Housing Data Layers : HUD has a data layer with information on LIHTC properties. There has been some research which indicates that LIHTC projects tend to be located outside of areas of opportunity. Now that I have the “opportunity maps” it would be interested to spatially analyze this. I am also looking into locating information on public housing. A Data Collection bill was passed in 2006 that requires the Department of Housing and Community Development to collect information about the number of units, location, and demographic information about the residents. When I went to access the spreadsheet, it asks for a password. It says they will provide reports to interested parties provided privacy laws are observed. So, I will have to look into this and see if it is feasible to get this information in time for this project. HUD has a list of public housing authorities in Massachusetts but not locations of the actual housing…still investigating geo-coding possibilities.


6) EOT Roads:   For this project I may want to include major roads. For my actual research project I am investigating the affects of building Rte 128 and Rte 495 (movement of jobs and people out of the inner city). I may try to include a map assessing the demographics of who lives in the towns bordering the highways. I would like to also see if the towns with the most stringent land use regulations are located near the highways as well.


3) Tabular data I will acquire and how it will be linked to the geographic data layers


Housing Regulation Database- This database was developed by the Pioneer Institute and includes a compilation of the land use regulations in 187 communities in Massachusetts . Stringent regulations in the areas of zoning, subdivision, wetlands, and septic have a positive correlation with high housing costs and also make it more difficult to create affordable housing. I think this data can be linked to the town poly shape file, but I need to investigate. One of the columns in the excel spreadsheet says “MassGIS” and includes a unique number for each town that has been assigned by MassGIS. I plan to use this attribute field to link this information to the town polys data layer.


Specific fields I am interested in including in my assignment:

  • Multifamily zoning (is it allowed by right, by special permit/with other restrictions, or not permitted at all? (Categorical).
  • MFMINLOT: Minimum parcel size for multi-family development (continuous)
  • UNITAREA: if bylaws indicate a minimum lot area per dwelling, what is the area? (continuous)
  • MFSENIOR: does the zoning bylaw impose age restrictions on multifamily in any district?
  • ONLYOLD: Is multifamily housing only permitted in the municipality if it is restricted to seniors? (categorical)
  • INCLUDE: Does the bylaw include any provision for inclusionary zoning? (categorical) 0=No, 1=Optional, 2=Mandatory, and 3= Both optional and mandatory
  • INSTRUC: What kinds of structures are allowed for affordable units built under inclusionary provision? (categorical) single family, townhouses, multiple structure types
  • INCDEVS: have affordable units been developed under inclusionary provisions? (categorical)
  • MLAEXLUC: Does the town exclude wetlands, easements, or sloped land from calculations of min. land requirements? (categorical)
  • MLACBA: Does the zoning bylaw require some portion of the minimum lot area to be Contiguous Buildable Areas? (categorical)
  • Lot shape data? Not sure


Zoning Bylaws and Status Tables (.dbf): This tabular data was collected by MassGIS for 351 cities and towns in 1999-2000. It includes a database of regulations such as minimum lot sizes and other standard dimensions. The minimum lot size data is important as it was included in the analysis that incorporated the housing regulation database. For the study, they combined the new database and the information from MassGIS. This data can be linked to geographic data layers through the MassGIS unique town ID.

4) Specific types of analysis you plan to do with this data and how you might accomplish this - the full analysis you want to do may lie in the future (e.g., for your thesis) - in this case, describe that, but also describe some exploratory or experimental analysis you will try out for the GIS project

I would like to use the two above tabular data sets to figure out a way to give each town a rating based on how stringent their regulations are, sort of like a suitability analysis.  I could take the land use regulations and rate them to determine where municipalities lie in terms of “stringent to lenient” land use regulations. I could overlay the land use regulations layer with census demographic data and also the opportunity map data layers. I could take this information and hopefully do a spatial analysis of land use regulations and how they may contribute to or create barriers of opportunity or geographic racial isolation. Is there a positive correlation between very stringent land use regulations and low populations of people of color or families? Do areas of opportunities have more lenient or stringent land-use regulation?


5) Issues you have encountered during data collection and assembly that may affect the outcome of your future project.


So far I have not had any major issues. I am not sure how to geo-coding information for public housing, but also have only searched minimally. It would be better to include this information than just using the LIHTC projects data; however, I am not sure it is vital. In the past, I have tried to create a “minority” percentage using census data, but when I tried this in the past it did not work. I am hoping to figure this out. I am also a bit concerned that my spatial analysis is a casual analysis. Just because these towns have stringent land use and just because they are in opportunity areas, are they really creating barriers to fair housing? Or are there other issues? I hope to remedy this by using some of the reports I wrote about in the previous assignment. One article shows that there is a positive correlation between stringent land use regulations and housing supply (and thus contributes to affordability issues). Another analysis shows that multi-family zoning by special permit is associated with exclusionary practices. Hopefully using this information, coupled with my spatial analysis can show a connection between land-use regulation and exclusionary housing patterns.