American Housing Survey (AHS)

HUD & Census
Years Available
1973 to present; annually prior to 1983, biennially from 1985 forward
Mode of Collection
Sample survey: in-person and telephone interviews.
The American Housing Survey (AHS) is a longitudinal housing unit survey conducted biennially in odd-numbered years. The survey is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. It provides current information on a wide range of housing subjects, including the composition of the nation's housing inventory, vacancies, physical condition of housing units, characteristics of occupants, indicators of housing and neighborhood quality, mortgages and other housing costs, home values, and characteristics of recent movers.
Selected Content
Characteristics of the housing unit (e.g., age, condition, size, type of fuel); neighborhood characteristics; household composition; demographic and economic characteristics of household members; previous unit of recent movers.
Population Covered
Residential housing units in the U.S.
The AHS is a longitudinal housing unit survey that gathers data about the quality of housing in the United States. Returning to the same households every other year to gather data, this survey allows users the unique opportunity to analyze housing and household changes over long periods of time. Interviews are conducted using computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) laptops either in person or by telephone. Housing units participating in the AHS have been scientifically selected to represent a cross section of all housing in the nation. The same basic sample of housing units is interviewed every two years until a new sample is drawn. The sample is updated periodically by adding newly constructed housing units and units discovered through coverage improvement efforts. Each housing unit in the national sample is weighted to minimize sampling error.
Response Rates and Sample Size
In 2017, the core national sample was 66,752 housing units; the weighted response rate was 80.4%.
Interpretation Issues
The 2015 AHS underwent a major redesign. A new sample was redrawn; the questionnaire was redesigned; variables were dropped, added, or modified; recodes and imputation methods were streamlined; and weighting methodology was changed. As a result, tables were redesigned and some estimates may not be comparable with previous years.