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Cross-Cutting Topics Forum

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Cross-Cutting Topics Forum (Archived)

Projects in this category will align to multiple goals in HUD's strategic plan and don't easily fit into one of the other topical categories. Proposed projects in this category would examine issues that cut across HUD's programs and deal with an intersection of multiple policy areas.

What do you think are the most critical research questions that should be explored in relation to cross-cutting issues?

Posted By: lantsberg
Posted On: Wed, 03/16/2016 - 15:08

The spatial distribution of jobs and housing, housing cost and income levels, and the robustness of transit networks are key drivers of vehicle based greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. When workers cannot afford to live near their jobs or accessible and reliable public transit, they are forced to commute in cars. With tailpipe emissions contributing nearly 40 percent of total GHG output, finding ways to correct inequities in intertwined systems of jobs housing and transportation is a fundamental element in equitably reducing vehicle miles travelled and achieving climate change goals.

Although there is a clear recognition that a region’s jobs‐housing fit – the extent to which homes in a community are affordable to the people who work there – is consequential to vehicle based greenhouse gas emissions, tools for evaluating regional or sub‐regional jobs‐housing fit and understanding how the geography of job and housing growth affects greenhouse gas emissions are lacking. A secondary consideration is that policies to improve workers’ earning power so they may afford the housing that is built and policies to help local workers fill the jobs being created close to home are confined to workforce and community development initiatives unconnected to regional GHG reduction efforts. Furthermore, below‐market rate housing development policy and practice is necessarily focused on serving target populations rather than achieving wider GHG reduction goals.

To fill this gap, there is an acute need to develop the methodologies and analyses to capture the interplay of wage levels, housing prices, and transportation costs and their effects on GHG emissions. Along with metrics for measuring and monitoring these systems, the proposed project will identify best practices for integrating labor market, land use, and transportation policies to reduce climate change, while preserving and increasing social and economic equity at the local and regional levels.

Posted By: B_Maretzki
Posted On: Thu, 05/12/2016 - 09:41

Be interested to have HUD PD&R undertake a comprehensive and quantitative evaluation of the impact of housing counseling activities on the performance (delinquency and default) of home purchase loans. With increased FICO requirements from CFPB for pre-purchase counseling it would be very interesting to track/evaluate the impact that the counseling has on the performance of those loans.

Posted By: ghanes
Posted On: Thu, 05/12/2016 - 14:48

Just how much of a barrier does limited English proficiency create to accessing housing? I've heard stories about property managers terminating phone calls from people that did not speak English well and people losing their place on Housing Choice Voucher waiting lists because they didn't understand the written notice in English from a housing authority.

More subtle, perhaps, is the situation in federally-assisted housing where a provider must adopt a Language Assistance Program for addressing limited English proficient applicants and tenants language needs. Sometimes, there simply is no Language Access Plan, or if there is one, it is deficient or staff isn't trained to it. Has there been a national assessment of how this impacts those that do not use English as they are seeking or trying to keep their housing?

I have reviewed Language Needs Assessments and Language Access Plans from state agencies and local governments in my state. Assuming they are typical of what might exist at private assisted housing provider offices, I found many deficiencies:

-The documents don't exist
-The documents are deficient and do not follow the HUD LEP Guidance; Language Access Plans are often strong on policy and weak on procedures
-There is spotty staff training
-Compliance documentation is non-existent
-Notice of no-cost language assistance and the right to file a complaint is not given
-There doesn't seem to be active public education or enforcement by federal agencies

But, in spite of these apparent defects and the barrier that they might create, what is the actual impact? Is it large/small compared to other barriers? Does papering the file with the required documents make a difference or are there other factors that play more important roles in helping LEP persons access housing...like good customer service, peer pressure, market demands, economic imperatives, for example?

Posted By: kconway
Posted On: Fri, 11/06/2015 - 18:10

As HUD continues to adapt its programs and seek out new and innovative ways to achieve its mission of creating strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality, affordable homes for all, it does so in a rapidly changing housing landscape. However, efforts to identify what works and why are often a complex process that can be costly, burdensome on recipients and administrators, and time consuming. In addition, the results of long-term studies often take several years to be published and disseminated, which further delays the chances of meaningful impact.

Program administrators and HUD partners in communities across the nation need much more rapid feedback on what works and what does not. They need information that can help them quickly adapt their efforts to most effectively meet the needs of the populations they are serving. Rapid-cycle evaluation (RCE), which is a series of structured tests, can provide valuable insight into whether changes to programs or operations are effective. Critically, RCE findings can be used to quickly refine program interventions or operations. Equally important, the results can be disseminated immediately to help cultivate those successful approaches, while efforts that fail to show promise can be scaled back.

HUD should consider and, where appropriate, incorporate RCE methods in its forthcoming studies. Doing so will add an important tool in the department’s efforts to meet its important mission.

Posted By: NLCHP
Posted On: Fri, 11/06/2015 - 17:48

This year, HUD included a question asking Continuums of Care what steps they are taking to end and prevent criminalization of homelessness on its homeless services grant application for the first time, building on policy established in the 2012 Searching Out Solutions report from the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, and which was highlighted in the October 2015 Interagency Council Secretaries meeting. HUD should evaluate the answers provided to that question, pulling out best practices that can be shared, as well as diving deeper into case studies around the costs of criminalization, including, for example: the costs to homeless individuals (criminal records, court fines and fees, days spent in pre-trial detention because of inability to pay bail), impacts on local business (how much of a business’s tax dollars go to police/jail costs, which could be significantly lowered by providing Housing First/stopping criminalization), impacts on homeless youth (including criminalization of truancy/runaway statutes, but also being criminalized by more broadly applicable laws), impacts on veterans (especially in the context of the goal to end veterans homelessness in 2015), impacts on survivors of domestic violence, etc.

Posted By: thalliday
Posted On: Fri, 11/06/2015 - 16:29

There has been impressive progress in recent years in understanding the role of neighborhoods in the life outcomes of children. We believe PD&R could complement this progress with a new focus on the potential of well managed affordable rental housing to improve outcomes for residents. Questions could focus on seniors, families, or children; on residents in low-income, gentrifying, or higher-income neighborhoods; and could compare residents with project-based assistance to those with vouchers or to households with similar characteristics living in unassisted housing in this same neighborhood. We believe that valuable information could be gained from exploring the following questions:

• Many urban neighborhoods that experienced concentrations of racial minorities, poverty, and/or economic distress in the mid-1980s are now thriving communities with access to jobs, services, transportation, and other important amenities and opportunities. What can be learned from HUD’s efforts to preserve existing affordable rental housing (especially HUD-assisted housing) in those neighborhoods and the resulting preservation of these affordable assets during and after the revitalization of these neighborhoods?

• What strategies are most effective in allowing low-income children to access and benefit from better educational opportunities in areas where school choice separates them from neighborhood schools?

• Do children living in assisted affordable rental housing in low-income neighborhoods experience more or fewer school moves or different educational outcomes than similar children living in other housing?

• What types of preservation efforts have the greatest impact on residents’ perceptions of safety, their engagement in outdoor exercise, and their health?

• What has HUD learned from the Choice Neighborhoods experience about the services and amenities that have the greatest impact on residents of low-income neighborhoods?

• What strategies can HUD, property owners, and local stakeholders follow to mitigate the impact of the trauma experienced by children and other residents of distressed neighborhoods?

• What are the health care costs of dual-eligible (Medicare and Medicaid) seniors who live in HUD-assisted housing compared to dual-eligible seniors living in other housing?

• What choices for buildings and landscaping are most successful or cost-effective for reducing water use?

• What are the barriers to building credit for low-income households, and what can HUD do to improve credit-building efforts?

Thanks for your consideration of our suggestions.

Posted By: RKleinman
Posted On: Fri, 11/06/2015 - 10:05

Many of today's important research questions are focused on the intersections between housing and health, education, employment, and so on. For example, the social determinants of health, which includes housing, is currently an important topic with increasing attention. Complementing this trend is a movement among federal and state agencies to invest in the creation of integrated administrative data systems to serve policy, practice, and research. Housing for individuals and families is an important piece of the whole-person puzzle. HUD's investment in cross-program and cross-agency collaborations to create or improve integrated administrative data systems would set the stage for answering many important policy and research questions for years to come.

Posted By: NAEH_SB
Posted On: Fri, 11/06/2015 - 17:54

It would also be helpful to explore the opportunities within integrated data systems to identify risk factors for homelessness and identify the characteristics of high users of health services and those most vulnerable populations to help communities prioritize homelessness resources more efficiently.

Posted By: Doug Ryan
Posted On: Fri, 11/06/2015 - 11:48

Manufactured housing accounts for about 7% of the nation's housing stock, and in some areas much more.It is generally affordable to low and moderate-income families. Yet, HUD does not mention it in its current strategic plan and only cites the statutorily required market survey in its Biennial Report. No wonder most states and localities fail to account for it in their comprehensive and consolidated planning.

HUD needs to mandate that PJs and states assess MH. To that end, HUD should comprehensively survey existing planning tools to determine assessment gaps, as well as basic data on land tenure, quality, age, conditions and demographics. While some of these data exist, they are far to diffuse to be useful as a planning and policy tool.

Posted By: danpetrie
Posted On: Fri, 11/06/2015 - 11:13

In mid-2015, both the US Supreme Court and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development announced significant decisions pertaining to the enforcement and effect of the nation’s Fair Housing Laws. In particular, the Court’s ruling in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. the Inclusive Communities Project found that housing policies and practices with discriminatory outcomes can be challenged under the Fair Housing Act, even if there was no intent to discriminate.
HUD should explore a variety of questions under this topic through literature review and government data including:
1) How is the process of providing affordable housing for families of color and low income families enhanced or inhibited by:
a. Local policies
b. State and federal policies
c. Local real estate market dynamics
d. Community acceptance
2. How are the prospects of families of color affected by residing in lower income census tracts/neighborhoods vs. wealthier census tracts/neighborhoods?
3. How are different kinds of communities (central city neighborhoods, suburban communities, small towns, rural areas) affected by housing provided to and occupied by families of color and lower income families, with respect to:
a. Real estate values
b. Crime and safety
c. Impact of schools
d. Health care and social services
4. What are the strategies that have been most successful in achieving fair housing outcomes?

Dan Petrie
Habitat for Humanity International

Posted By: EOo
Posted On: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 15:05

The core administrative responsibilities associated with receiving HUD block grants (auditing, planning, and reporting, including those around fair housing) are largely the same for all communities. As the regulatory burden has remained the same or increased in recent years, funding levels have decreased, leaving recipient communities struggling to both meet regulatory requirements and spend funds effectively. Many entitlements spend money supporting similar programs, but also many of the same entities carry out these programs. This combination of issues creates a situation ripe for greater collaboration and coordination. What role can metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) or entities with regional planning mandates play in the coordination and administration of HUD programs? Can this mirror the role that they play in the programming of federal transportation funds, with prioritized expenditures serving to gain efficiencies, better allocate limited resources, and provide more consistent oversight and programming of funds?

Posted By: samfriedman
Posted On: Fri, 10/09/2015 - 17:54

In the future HUD should:
1) keep the asthma question on EVERY panel of the AHS; asthma is rising and is linked to housing/neighborhood conditions therefore making the AHS a great source of data

2) study housing discrimination more regularly and at the METRO level; the HDS has outlived its usefulness. We need metro-level indicators of housing discrimination to link to segregation as well as health measures.

Posted By: blair.d.russell
Posted On: Mon, 10/26/2015 - 12:36

We appreciate the time you have taken to share these suggestions. Your ideas will be shared within HUD as we develop our research priorities and make decisions regarding ongoing survey efforts. Please continue sharing your insights in these areas.
Blair Russell, HUD PD&R

Posted By: Sally Stevens
Posted On: Sat, 10/31/2015 - 13:24

The cooperative movement is growing quickly from the establishment of worker owned cooperative businesses to Cooperatively owned housing and is building community ownership and wealth and serving to reduce social and economic inequality - HUD could have significant impact by connecting and partnering with the many local and regional grassroots groups advancing the cooperative model, such as the following:

Cities, Inequality and the Common Good

"As investors move to buy up foreclosed homes and so-called "vacant lots" on which community gardens sit, to displace many longstanding businesses and cultural institutions, local residents and activists propose instead to take some of these properties out of the real estate market altogether. To do so, they are creating limited-equity cooperative housing, real estate investment cooperatives, and other mechanisms to stabilize neighborhoods and to preserve long-term affordable residential, commercial and artistic spaces."


This Group Wants to Help Lower Rents by Buying Real Estate as a Collective

Posted By: allen650
Posted On: Thu, 10/08/2015 - 12:32

As a researcher who focuses on housing issues in immigrant communities, one topic that has caught my eye recently is the experience of non-citizens in federally subsidized housing. In contrast to many other federal public benefits (E.g., TANF), non-citizens have not experienced the same kind of restrictions in their access to federally subsidized housing. That said, HUD doesn't publicly release data on residents living in federally subsidized housing. I would really benefit as a researcher if HUD included citizenship in the RCR reports and as a field in the microdata set that PD&R releases for the use of researchers.

Posted By: blair.d.russell
Posted On: Mon, 10/26/2015 - 16:54

Thank you for sharing your perspective on an important housing research topic. Your suggestion will be disseminated within HUD as part of the Research Roadmap idea-generation process. We appreciate your help in identifying important areas for future research. Please continue to share your research ideas with us.
Blair Russell, HUD PD&R

Posted By: Michael Moody
Posted On: Fri, 10/09/2015 - 16:06

I think HUD policy makers and program formulators should consider introducing advisory input from urban planning teams in the process of making decisions that will impact the quality of life in areas experiencing substantial population growth. I use the term urban planning teams because I think that planning at the highest level needs an urban planning focus but it also needs input and the expertise of certain professional groups not often considered in the process of deciding to build or not to build.
In point of fact, I think we need to consult and consider the research of soil and plant scientists to deal with the growth of mega cities and the increasing population density on seacoasts and river deltas. Erosion and the loss of wetlands from continued residential development is an issue of concern for me. We may be able to continue to develop in such areas, but how much development can those areas support? How do we preserve vegetation that protects the soil in marsh land and riverside developments?

Suppose we instituted a policy that all housing in beach front areas needed to pay an environmental assessment. Urban planners and business professional would be able to tell us how much an assessment collected at closing would raise under varying assessment rates. But how much would be need to really mitigate the environmental consequences of such development. What would we use the funds collected from such an assessment for? It might be suggested that we use such funds to rebuild the mangrove swamp lands, or, that we undertake a major effort to plant mangroves as far up the east coast as the plants can tolerate.
Many beach front houses are built on stilts to cope with the flooding that comes with tropical storms. That does work and it might be beneficial to actually build elevated structures in urban areas as well, and not just in areas that have to worry about hurricanes. The heat island effect has been a long observed phenomenon in heavily built up urban areas. There is a well-documented difference in temperature in the urban core of major cities and the less densely populated suburbs. It has to do with the fact that there are so many structures and roads covering the ground in such urbanized areas that the ground can’t breathe or respire and throw off accumulated heat in a manner akin to sweating. If we have a large number of structures in a given that were built off the ground or used specialized cements that were more permeable than current types of road surfaces, the ground might be better able to manage the heat load of growth and development and cool down some.
I can come up with these ideas or follow others who have come up with similar ideas for making densely populated urban areas more environmentally responsive. I will be the first to tell you on this subject that I don’t know if any of the ideas I have thought of or read about will work. That is why I am saying in this comment that HUD needs to look for technical expertise in some unfamiliar places. There are many parts to the whole of the urban environment. I think we need to become concerned about the land on which housing rests, and seek out the expertise that will give us some understanding of the best way to make the most environmentally sustainable use of the land we use to build.

Posted By: blair.d.russell
Posted On: Mon, 10/26/2015 - 12:51

Thank you for sharing your insights on these important issues. We appreciate the time you took to give us your perspective. Your comments will be shared within HUD as we devise our future research strategies. Please continue to participate in this idea generation process in the future.
Blair Russell, HUD PD&R

Posted By: TTURN
Posted On: Tue, 10/13/2015 - 17:37

With the shortage of public housing, it would be helpful to have a "how to" toolkit, guide, app, etc., on how residents can move up from public housing based on evidence of success in current and previous generations

Posted By: blair.d.russell
Posted On: Mon, 10/26/2015 - 12:27

Thank you for sharing this suggestion. Your idea to develop a toolkit or app concerning how residents can move up from public housing will be among those reviewed and discussed as the Department sets its research priorities for the coming years. Please continue to share your insights with us.
Blair Russell, HUD PD&R

Posted By: Books4me
Posted On: Thu, 10/22/2015 - 10:46

I believe we should be researching how Refugee Population enter into communities and how they then transition into permanent housing with access to employment, healthcare, and other services. How many have difficulty in the transition, how many wind up homeless or in need of additional subsidies. Each year organizations bring thousands of refugees to the US and they settle in communities everywhere. Some communities are ill equipped to handle diverse populations and other thrive and are accepting an open. This has implications in health, education, housing and other social services. We need to ensure we have a system in place that makes the transition of new residents more straightforward.

Posted By: blair.d.russell
Posted On: Mon, 10/26/2015 - 12:24

Thank you for sharing your suggestion with HUD as part of our Research Roadmap idea gathering process. Your recommendation has been noted and will be among the ideas considered for the Departments near- and long-term research agenda.
Blair Russell, HUD PD&R

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