Posted Date: October 9, 2020
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After 28 years of Federal service, all of it working on the American Housing Survey, I am retiring. My last working day will be Wednesday, October 14.

My time at the AHS has seen some amazing changes: from paper questionnaires to CATI, tapes to CDs to downloads, printed reports and codebooks to PDFs and then web applications. There have been two major redesigns, in 1997 and 2015, plus a myriad of changes, large and small, in almost every aspect of the survey.

I began working for Duane McGough, who was present at the creation of the AHS in 1973. I learned about data from Paul Burke and policy analysis from Kathy Nelson. Ron Sepanik took over after Duane retired, to be followed, after some years, by Shawn Bucholtz. All have left their stamps on the survey as we strove to adapt to technological and housing market changes, with the aim of providing you with the best data about the state of the housing stock.

The program has always been aided by outside consultants. Greg Watson lead the quality control of the 1997 redesign and the first Components of Inventory Change (CINCH) reports. Dave Yao had a knack for taking my table designs and turning them into production systems that could run themselves with only the lightest supervision. I have to give special thanks to Fred Eggers, who hired me when he was Chief Economist at HUD and then became my consultant after he retired, turning out quality statistical reports year after year.

AHS is really a partnership with the Census Bureau (although HUD pays the bills!). We continue to benefit from the talent and energy of their field staff who persuade respondents to participate. Their headquarters staff and HUD work together to prepare each round of the survey for the field and to turn the results into edited, tested, and useful data. There are simply too many Census Bureau personnel for me to list, but I thank them all for their professionalism and comradeship.

Finally, I want to thank you users for the support you have given us through the years and the good use that you have made of the data. After, all, the whole purpose of the AHS is to provide a common understanding of the state of the housing stock, so that you can apply it. The AHS may provide the flour, but you are the ones who bake the cakes. I never tire of seeing citations of the AHS in reports, academic papers, and new stories.

I leave the survey in the capable hands of George Carter and Portia Hemphill. In the near future, they will be joined by a new Division Director, and, perhaps, an additional analyst. The 2021 survey will be going into the field next Spring, and I expect to see additional rounds for years to come.

Dav Vandenbroucke
Senior Economist
U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development
451 7th Street SW, Room 8222
Washington, DC 20410

Phone 202-402-5890

I disclaim all disclaimers