Using GIS to assist with federal funding applications

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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.