Federal funding is a fundamental part of local government by helping to provide the necessary monetary assets for programs ranging from infrastructure improvements to low income housing support. While numbers and statistics related to a specific program are the nuts and bolts that eventually lead to funding being denied or awarded, including a spatial analysis of the data as a component of the funding application can help to clarify the provided information and increase a local government’s chance of receiving the requested funds.
Recently, the City of Des Plaines Community Development Department requested the assistance of the city’s GIS Department to develop a map showing the population density of low income census block group areas to be included in a federal city housing report. Since specific information regarding current income and population levels for each block group was not readily available, it was decided to use housing unit information as a substitute for population values. The assumption was that the more addresses in an area considered to be low income, the higher the potential low income population. Using this assumption and the available GIS address information, a map showing low to high density housing areas was developed to be used as a tool by the Community Development department to determine proper funding allocation. Also, by including this map in the housing report, the city was able to provide a visual method for highlighting the areas of greatest need as well as the extent to which low income housing is distributed across the city.
While statistics alone can provide the necessary information a community is trying to convey, by including a visual component, the data becomes more accessible and potentially easier to understand for those that are reviewing a report. Including a mapping component puts the information into a real world context and can give local government a more concrete method of sharing critical information that can lead to increased federal support.