We are pleased to welcome Matt Thompson as our new data analytics fellow. Matt will work with the policy development and research team to support the data analysis needs of the Preservation Next initiative and its upcoming preservation academies, as well as support ongoing research on ownership patterns and their implications.
Tell us how you first got involved with affordable housing?
As a student at Emory University, I worked on a “DataThink” project, which is a data consulting program my department operated with local nonprofits. I worked with the Decatur Land Trust and the city of Decatur on a group project to identify parcels in Decatur that would be prime for affordable redevelopment.
What have you been working on at Enterprise so far?
I’ve largely been working on supporting the Preservation Next program. I’ve been working on identifying small- to medium- multifamily homes for our upcoming Southeast Academies. I’ve also been working on updating our ownership cluster analysis and creating a text categorization model to automatically identify the type of owners in each ownership cluster.
What do you wish other people knew about the importance of the role you play in creating affordable housing?
Affordable housing is a difficult endeavor because trying to find viable land and properties, that conform to various local zoning rules, while also still having the needed capital to create it, results in constraints. Those constraints require lots of information and data. As a data analyst, I help sift through hundreds of thousands of rows of data to identify which properties fit our constraints. In an increasingly data-driven world, to make the best policy decisions, we need data to back up the policies and programs we support. Ultimately, my job is to help ensure that the decision-makers have the best information possible when they craft and implement their policies and programs.
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
I’m not originally from the Southeast. I’m originally from the Pacific Northwest as I grew up in Boise, Idaho. Whenever I tell people I’m from Idaho, I’m almost always told that I’m the first person they know from Idaho. Sometimes I like to see if they can guess where I’m from, because Idaho doesn’t have a strong regional accent, so I’m always curious to see what people’s answers are. I’ve gotten a wide gamut of answers from Iowa to North Florida, to California, but never Idaho.
What do you do when you aren't working?
Now that the pandemic isn’t dictating our day-to-day lives, I’m trying to become a social butterfly again. I’m involved in Stonewall Sports, an LGBTQ-based community organization that operates several different sports leagues, like kickball, bowling, and tennis. I’m also a huge fan of sushi and craft beer, though not at the same time!