Demographics & Economics

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Part of any thorough community revitalization plan includes an assessment of existing conditions.  Existing conditions include demographics among other topics, such as strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis); natural environmental features; existing land uses; zoning and circulation.  Demographic assessments generally rely on US Census data but can include other sources as well.  Demographic attributes cover a variety of population characteristics that include but are not limited to: total population within a given area, age-related statistics, gender distributions, and ethnicities.  Housing and socio-economic attributes also fall within the scope of these assessments.  Housing characteristics include structural ages, number of housing units within a given structure, and housing values.  Socio‑economic characteristics include information on education, occupations, and incomes.

Demographic information can serve a wide variety of uses.  Within a revitalization initiative, demographic analysis serves as an objective basis for comparison with surrounding communities.  As a result, the study area can be placed within a number of broader contexts (city, county, metropolitan area, state or national).  Depending on the outcome of comparisons, demographic data can play a key role in justifications for funding requests and grant proposals.  Demographic data can anecdotally reflect the history of an area, certainly in terms of housing characteristics, but also to some degree in terms of ethnic characteristics.  The data can help identify trends and how long trends have existed.  Demographics can tie in with and substantiate aspects of SWOT analyses.

Local, State and Federal agencies rely on data collected by the Census Bureau for demographic analyses and for a variety of government mandates.  For example, the Census 2000 Brief on Structural and Occupancy Characteristics of Housing states that:

 “Federal agencies use data on the year the structure was built to create formulas for allocating funds, determining substandard housing, and constructing surveys.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development uses this item as a component in setting Fair Market Rents as well as in its Community Development Block Grant Program, HOME, and Public Housing Modernization allocation formulas.  The year the structure was built helps determine, under the Older Americans Act, the number of older people who live in inadequate housing and who may be candidates for home repair loans or alternative housing.  It is also used by local areas for forecasting the need for services such as fire protection.”


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