Choice Neighborhoods Evaluation
 

Overview

HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) is managing a study of Choice Neighborhoods(Choice), a new program to support the redevelopment of distressed assisted housing projects and transformation of the neighborhoods surrounding them into mixed-income, high-opportunity places. The study focuses on the first five recipients of Choice implementation grants: the Quincy Corridor neighborhood in Boston, the Woodlawn neighborhood in Chicago, the Iberville/Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans, the Eastern Bayview neighborhood in San Francisco, and the Yesler neighborhood in Seattle. Summaries of the projects are available here: Choice Neighborhoods project summaries.

The first phase of PD&R’s study was carried out by the Urban Institute and MDRC, and was completed in 2015. Two reports were published in phase one, describing baseline characteristics in the five neighborhoods and discussing how the grantees worked through the many challenges associated with revitalizing distressed neighborhoods. Additional information below describes the key components of HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Evaluation:

 

Household Survey

In 2013 and 2014, Urban Institute and Decision Information Resources, Inc. (DIR) surveyed 1,713 households across the five sites. These households included both residents of the assisted housing targeted for redevelopment and residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. The survey included questions about housing quality, neighborhood safety, economic conditions in the neighborhood, and household characteristics like material hardship, employment, health, and child well-being. Responses to the survey are protected by the Privacy Act and are strictly confidential—only HUD-approved researchers will be able to access the data, and published reports will not identify individual respondents. The survey has been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB control number 2528-0286). HUD and the research team have continued to maintain contact with survey respondents to follow up with them down the road and to understand how they were affected by the Choice investments in their neighborhood. Participation in the survey is optional, but individuals contacted by the research team are strongly encouraged to participate and share their perspective on how the Choice program is affecting them and their neighborhood.

Secondary Data and Document Review

Under phase one, the research team collected existing data on a variety of neighborhood conditions, including: home values and rents; mortgage lending, foreclosure activity, and vacant buildings; jobs and business activity; educational attainment, socioeconomic conditions, and other resident characteristics; and crime. These data came from a variety of sources, including some local sources – for example, local Police Departments provided detailed crime data. The research team also reviewed grant applications, local planning documents, and other documents that provide background on the strategies grantees are pursuing and the history of the neighborhoods in which Choice funds are being used. Ongoing support and partnership from the Choice grantees is essential to HUD’s research effort.

Qualitative Observation

Under phase one, the research team also collected extensive qualitative information, including: stakeholder perspectives, provided via telephone interviews, focus groups, and direct observation of community meetings and meetings with organizations implementing the Choice program; and direct observations of the built environment, including building conditions, walkability, and factors related to safety. These efforts provide essential context for understanding the strategies pursued by each grantee, and will help the research team as they look for strategies and activities that work in varied neighborhood contexts. Ongoing support and partnership from the Choice grantees and other stakeholders is essential to HUD’s research effort. The research team will not attribute quotes or viewpoints to individuals.

Phase 2 – Follow-up Study

The first phase of the study was completed in 2015, but the five Choice grants being studied will not be fully implemented until 2017 or 2018; redevelopment is underway but far from complete. Once the Choice grants have been fully expended, PD&R intends to follow up on the strong foundation that has already been established. PD&R researchers will collect additional information to assess the effects of the Choice Neighborhoods investments on the target neighborhoods and the individuals that lived there at baseline. This research will evaluate the effectiveness of the Choice Neighborhoods program and provide insights to help HUD and Congress make decisions about the program’s future.

Reports

In September, 2013, HUD published an interim report summarizing the research team’s preliminary analysis of baseline data and implementation progress. That report is available here: Interim Report.

In November, 2015, HUD published a more comprehensive progress report that provides additional information about implementation and the baseline conditions experienced by residents of the neighborhood and target development. That report is available here: Baseline Conditions and Early Progress.

HUD has also funded several small research grants focused on aspects of the Choice initiative not covered by the primary evaluation. The University of California-Berkeley, the International City/County Management Association, Portland State University, and the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services have worked on research related to Choice. The Portland State project looked at characteristics of Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant applicants; that report is available here: Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants.

 

Contact

If you have further questions about the study or any of the content described on this page, please contact Paul A. Joice in HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research.

Email: Paul.A.Joice@hud.gov

Information on the HOPE VI Program

In 1989, Congress established the National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing to explore the problems of troubled public housing developments and to establish a plan to address those problems by the year 2000. Following several years of research and public hearings, the Commission's 1992 final report identified the key factors that defined severely distressed housing: extensive physical deterioration of the property; a considerable proportion of residents living below the poverty level; a high incidence of serious crime; and management problems as evidenced by a large number of vacancies, high unit turnover, and low-rent collection rates. The report estimated that 6 percent, or 86,000, of the nation's 1.4 million public housing units were severely distressed based on these factors.

The Commission members agreed that existing approaches for improving public housing were inadequate to address the needs of severely distressed developments. Instead, they proposed the creation of a new program to address comprehensively the social and physical problems of distressed public housing communities. Congress first provided funding for such a program through the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act of 1993. Originally called the Urban Revitalization Demonstration Program, this public housing revitalization program soon became known by the acronym HOPE VI (Homeownership and Opportunity for People Everywhere). Congressional appropriations have been provided for HOPE VI every year since 1993.

In 1998, Abt Associates Inc., under contract to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), began a 5-year evaluation of the HOPE VI program. The Interim Assessment of the HOPE VI Program was designed to study program outcomes by collecting and analyzing data about 15 HOPE VI sites once redevelopment was completed and units were reoccupied. This report presents the study findings.

Download the Interim Assessment of the HOPE VI Program Cross-Site Report

Historical information relating to both HOPE VI Demolition Grants FY 1996 – 2003 and HOPE VI Revitalization Grants FY 1995 – 2010 is available on the respective linked pages, which reside on our parent website, www.HUD.gov. The information is provided in chart form, and includes the Public Housing Authority (PHA) grant recipients, the development name to which the funding was to be applied, the fiscal year in which the grants were awarded, and the dollar amounts originally awarded for each project. This information is not intended to reflect a complete or final accounting of all HOPE VI activity, but is provided as guide for those seeking additional information.

Additional information on HOPE VI grants beyond data at the links listed above may be obtained by submitting a Freedom of Information Act request for the September 30, 2014 HOPE VI quarterly report, available on disk, at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/administration/foia.