A brief deconcentration analysis shows that the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Deconcentration Program has been reasonably effective at the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO).
In order to provide an overview of HANO’s Section 8 deconcentration data, a table of Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher unit addresses (with personalized information removed for privacy) was mapped using standard MapPoint mapping software, to show the number of Section 8 units in each census tract in New Orleans. The table was then matched with census data for Poverty Rate and Population. The results were analyzed visually using the standard graphing functions in Excel as discussed in this review.
A primary deconcentration question is whether HANO’s Section 8 units are concentrated in high-poverty districts. In order to examine this question, the census tracts were sorted by poverty rate. As the following graph shows, some census tracts in New Orleans have a poverty rate nearly 100% (left hand side of graph); others are close to zero (right hand side).
In the next graph, the numbers of Section 8 units per census tract were plotted to see if there was a relationship between Poverty Rate and number of Section 8 Units per census tract. The X-Axis (census tract number) is the same for each of the 3 poverty graphs in this section.
In this graph, the numbers of Section 8 units in higher poverty areas (on the left side of the chart) is approximately the same as the numbers of Section 8 units in lower poverty areas (the right side of the chart). There is no concentration of Section 8 units in areas of high poverty. There are some spikes in a handful of census tracts in the middle income census tracts. Overall, the resulting distribution of Section 8 units shows a fairly randomized distribution across all the census tracts.
This is demonstrated in the next chart, where the poverty rate and Section 8 utilization are overlaid on the same graph. The concentration of Section 8 units in areas of high poverty appears somewhat randomized.
Another deconcentration issue relates to Population Density – whether New Orleans Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher units are concentrated in high-population districts. In order to examine this question, the census tracts were again sorted, this time by population. As shown in the following graph, there is a range of population densities per census tract, ranging from over 12,000 to less than 1,000 persons per census tract:
The Section 8 unit numbers were then plotted, sorted by descending census tract population. The X-Axis (census tract number) is the same for the 3 graphs in this section.
While it is clear that there is a slight trend to more Section 8 units in areas of higher population density (left side of the chart), there is also a large randomization of Section 8 densities per census tract.
In order to analyze this further, the Population and Section 8 graphs were placed together on the same chart. The resulting “Population/Section 8 Units” chart is easier to visually compare the data:
As can be readily seen, HANO’s Section 8 HCV Program is not overly concentrated in areas of high population. In fact, the chart indicates there is a low unit concentration in some areas where the population is high – and also the reverse.
Analyzing the data further, I computed a third order trend line using standard statistical tools available in Microsoft Excel. The resulting Trend Line is the bright green line curving through the middle of the chart. This green “Trend Line” is a mathematical analysis designed to show what the real Section 8 utilization trends in New Orleans. The effect is to mathematically round and average data to clarify the essence of the somewhat randomized underlying day-to-day data.
This green Section 8 unit Trend Line is approximately the same as the blue Population Line. This means that on average, across all the New Orleans census tracts, Section 8 unit rentals are closely proportional to census tract population. In fact, as can be seen on the left hand of the chart, where the population is highest per census tract, the green Trend Line is significantly lower than the blue Population Line. This means that Section 8 units are lower in the areas of highest population concentration.
d) Summary: New Orleans deconcentration of poverty using Section 8.
In summary, these alternate forms of analysis show there is no high concentration of Section 8 units in areas of high population. Deconcentration of poverty using the Section 8 program was reasonably effective in New Orleans prior to Katrina, given the high poverty nature of New Orleans and Louisiana as a whole.
By David Hoicka
[Thanks to the Housing Authority of New Orleans for non personalized housing data]