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What's New in Civic Tech: Experts Call for Eviction Data

Plus, an open source tool tracks first 100 days in office for new Baltimore mayor; Baton Rouge, La., releases an open data policy report with plans for expansion, and Houston looks to hire a new CDO.

by / February 4, 2021
Local advocates pushing for rent control and eviction protections hang up a sign in the courtyard of an apartment complex in Southern California. (TNS/Katie Falkenberg)

Housing and local gov advocates are calling for the collection and release of federal eviction data, noting that the U.S. government itself keeps little eviction data.

Specifically, this call was made by Yuliya Panfil, director of the Future of Land and Housing program at New America, and Lauren Lowery, program director for Housing and Community Development at the National League of Cities, in a recent piece posted by CityLab.

The conversation around increased federal eviction data comes as the Biden administration has extended the national eviction moratorium through the end of March. One of the central points in the piece is that in order to address an increasing number of eviction filings, local government agencies and adjacent organizations simply need better data around where these evictions may take place.

“City leaders need granular, real-time information if they want to crack down on landlords who are turning tenants out illegally, or to equitably distribute the billions of dollars in rental assistance flowing down from the federal government,” they wrote. “If we are serious about stemming the tsunami of evictions predicted to hit once moratoriums lift, we must equip cities with the resources to fight.”

New America also recently found that only one in three counties in the U.S. have no annual eviction figures available. 

The call for the increase in data and specificity comes amid an ongoing culture change in local government, wherein leaders are increasingly making decisions based on specific and timely data. Essentially, the lack of eviction data stands in stark contrast to many of the modern local governance approaches, which rely increasingly on vast amounts of data.

Open Source Tool Tracks Baltimore Mayor’s First 100 Days

Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott created an open source tool to track progress made during his administration’s first 100 days.

The creation of this tool comes after Scott convened more than 250 people to participate in his transition team. This group included community leaders, teachers, advocates, young people, artists, business owners and other residents. The idea was to help Mayor Scott develop both short and long-term recommendations for the next four years. 

A mayoral executive team review of the plans resulted in an initiative called 100 Days of Action, consisting of 58 specific actions. The open source tool is aimed at tracking progress toward those actions, breaking them into three categories: completed, in progress and not yet started. These actions are also split into six priority areas, with those being building public safety, making Baltimore equitable, prioritizing youth, building public trust, COVID-19 recovery and responsible stewardship of city resources.

It’s all bright and color-coded, which makes it easy to use. The tool was built by the Baltimore Office of Performance and Innovation.

Baton Rouge, La., Releases Open Data Policy Report

Baton Rouge, La., has released a new open data policy report, which covers the city’s efforts in that area last year and also looks ahead to plans for expansion in 2021. 

Dubbed the 2020 Open Data Policy Report, the document is an annual creation by the Baton Rouge Department of Information Services. The report is created as part of a mandate by Baton Rouge’s open data policy, which was approved in late 2017.

You can find the report in full on the city’s website.

Houston Looks to Hire New Chief Data Officer

Finally, Houston is looking to hire a chief data officer/enterprise data officer, with a new job posting that is up now.

The position is housed in the Houston Information Technology Services department, and it’s an executive-level position. The role is described as being “responsible for enterprise-wide governance and utilization of information as an asset, via data processing, analysis, data mining, information trading and other means.”

Interested parties can apply online.

 


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Zack Quaintance Associate Editor

Zack Quaintance is the associate editor for Government Technology. His background includes writing for daily newspapers across the country and developing content for a software company in Austin, Texas. He is now based in Washington, D.C. He can be reached via email.

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