Population Health

October 20, 2022

Applied Research Fellowship project assesses King County housing need and supply trends

Image of fellows presenting their project findingsThe 2022 University of Washington Population Health Initiative (PHI) Applied Research Fellowship program (ARFP) recently concluded their research on trends in housing need and supply in King County to better understand how needs are changing and may change in the future. They also provided stakeholders with an updated interactive data tool, developed by past PHI ARFP teams, which describes geographic and temporal changes in household stock and availability of land for residential development.

The PHI ARFP team (pictured, during final presentations) drew from multiple data sources to address the multifaceted issue of housing supply and need. Looking at population counts and prevalence for different demographic groups from the Washington State Office of Financial Management, Decennial Census and American Community Survey data, and longitudinal data on residence types from the King County Assessor’s Office, the ARFP cohort was able to integrate their findings to improve the usability and efficiency of the existing interactive data visualization tool and to elucidate potential mismatches between housing needs and supply.

This data on population, households and residences was evaluated in a way that also took rising income inequality, systemic racism and socioeconomic inequity into consideration. The team noted the complexities and nuances between demographics and the disparities that contribute to an accurate population count within King County. Ultimately, increasing population in King County will necessitate more housing for diverse populations and their residential preferences.

The ARFP’s housing data was obtained from the King County Assessor and American Community Survey data. One of the goals of this summer fellowship cohort was to piece together a picture of housing needs in King County using different building and demographic datasets, and to use that data to improve the data visualization tool.

The data visualization tool already includes variables on population, education level, median income, household size, methods of transportation to work and median gross rent. The 2022 summer cohort added the variables of rent burden, number of occupants per room, and number of bedrooms to the tool as a way to better anticipate housing trends and needs.

Insights from and extending beyond the 10-week program include the potential benefits of further defining residential building types, the addition of quantifying variables for structural attributes of housing to better confront severe weather, the ability of users to look at multiple variables simultaneously and how the user experience of the data visualization tool can be improved with a general update.

King County, policy makers and community members will be able to draw from the team’s datasets and temporal and spatial analyses to better address housing in relation to extreme temperatures, disaster resilience, environmental justice, and affordability. The team’s datasets and work on the interactive data tool will help illuminate geographic areas and specific populations more likely to be exposed to economic risk and displacement.

The Applied Research Fellowship program was launched in 2019 to equip students with data analysis, critical thinking and team science skills to enable them to effectively tackle complex population health challenges and become future leaders in the field. The program is run by the Population Health Initiative in partnership with the University of Washington’s Center for Studies in Demography & Ecology, and this year’s project was developed in partnership with the King County Demographer and Public Health – Seattle & King County’s Assessment, Policy Development and Evaluation Unit.

Graduate and undergraduate students from various departments made up this year’s cohort of fellows.

Name Degree Program School
Oliver Tjalve Undergraduate, Sociology and Statistics College of Arts & Sciences
Chris Govella Master of Science, Real Estate College of Built Environments
Jenna Castillo PhD, Sociology College of Arts & Sciences
Maxine Wright PhD, Sociology College of Arts & Sciences
Mary Jewell Master of Science, Epidemiology School of Public Health

By working on a real-world, client-driven project as part of a multidisciplinary team, the fellows learned how to integrate their disciplinary expertise into a team-oriented, problem-solving approach that developed multi-pronged solutions to a pressing population health challenge.

The application period for the summer 2023 Applied Research Fellowship program will open in winter 2023.

Learn more about this fellowship program by visiting its web page.