Capstone - Fourth Economy Consulting

Understand where affordable rental housing shortages are most severe, and predicting where the risk of evictions for low-income families will be highest, as the result of unemployment shocks and financial vulnerability.

Students: Natalee Morris, Gayatri Pai, Mason Putt

The capstone team was tasked by Fourth Economy Consulting with combining data sets on household characteristics for cities and regions with data on eviction rates in cities, and using these data and appropriate statistical and visualization techniques to answer a set of related questions: How does the shortage of affordable rental housing, and shocks to unemployment, relate to evictions? Which communities in the United States have the most significant shortages? Are the communities with the worst shortages of housing for low-income households experiencing higher rates of evictions now? What are the geographic patterns of these shortages across the United States? What factors are associated with the presence or absence of an affordable housing shortage?  The team first assembled and merged the needed datasets, and then used a variety of statistical techniques to show that evictions are significantly more likely when a large proportion of renters are cost-burdened by overly expensive housing, and when unemployment increases. The team also provided an interactive visualization of housing affordability gaps, and associated eviction rates, at the county level for the entire United States. Interactive Visualization and Jupyter Presentation

Client Review by Jerry Paytas, PhD., Vice President, Research & Analytics, Fourth Economy

  • How did the MQE students meet the demands of your project? We gave them a problem with both analytical and visualization challenges and they knocked both out of the park.
  • What was the most satisfying professional exchange that you had with the MQE students? Seeing them work through the challenges, testing different approaches, and then ultimately finding a feasible and elegant solution.
  • What is unique about the MQE program and its training of future innovators in economics and data science? Too often analysts struggle to present their findings in digestible forms and designers struggle to separate the wheat from the chaff. The emphasis on both the analysis and the communication aspects sets the MQE program apart.