2014 Research Priorities
Homeownership and housing finance
Rapid changes in the housing finance sector led to the inflation of the house price bubble and its sudden deflation in the 2000s. The U.S. and much of the rest of the world continue to deal with the aftermath of the financial crisis rooted in the U.S. housing finance sector. HUD is interested in research in many areas of homeownership and housing finance, which include, but are not limited to: better predicting a finance-driven house price bubble; improving outcomes for struggling homeowners and communities in the areas of foreclosures, foreclosure alternatives, mortgage modification protocols, and real-estate owned properties; finding ways that are safer for both borrowers and lenders to extend mortgage credit to first-time homebuyers and homeowners with less-than-stellar credit; and updating federal support structures for single-family and multifamily housing finance in a reformed housing finance system.
Affordable rental housing
Providing housing assistance for low- and moderate-income families in the rental market is central to HUD’s mission. HUD is interested in research that improves the efficiency and effectiveness of housing programs, which include public housing, Housing Choice Vouchers, assisted multifamily programs, and FHA insurance. Priority research questions address (among other topics): (a) improving program operations and responses to changing market conditions; (b) identifying rent subsidy approaches that could more efficiently and beneficially meet the full range of housing needs; and (c) better understanding how HUD’s programs are affected by tenant and landlord behavior.
Housing as a platform for improving quality of life
Specifically, the Department is interested in how HUD-provided housing assistance can be used to accomplish such things as: (a) improve educational outcomes and early learning and development; (b) improve health outcomes; (c) increase economic security and self-sufficiency; (d) improve housing stability through supportive services for vulnerable populations, including the elderly, people with disabilities, homeless families and individuals, and those individuals and families at risk of becoming homeless; and (e) improve public safety. To evaluate the ability of housing assistance to positively affect these various outcomes requires reaching beyond the sphere of housing to health, education, and other areas, which may involve targeted provision of cost-effective services in association with housing.
Sustainable and inclusive communities
HUD’s goal of advancing sustainable and inclusive communities seeks innovative and transformational evidence-based approaches to deal with long-standing and emerging community development challenges. HUD is interested in research questions such as, but not limited to: (a) implementing proven and cost-effective housing technology in HUD-funded housing or other housing, including green or sustainable construction methods, operations, and products that reduce energy consumption and other negative environmental impacts, while improving affordability, occupant health or other outcomes; (b) understanding and addressing persistent segregation along racial, ethnic and economic lines, and the role of mixed-income housing and inclusionary zoning in strengthening communities; (c) strengthening urban resilience in the face of climate change, disasters, pestilence and energy shocks; (d) improving integrated and regional planning for land use and transportation; (e) understanding the role and effect of anchor institutions (for example, universities, hospitals and churches) on the revitalization of distressed communities, particularly when the anchor institution engages the community and forms partnerships with local stakeholders for community change.
HUD has made, and continues to make, significant investments in “Research Assets” as described below, including program demonstrations and in the production of datasets, that PD&R is interested in seeing leveraged in ways that may, or may not, be specifically referenced in the Research Roadmap or HUD’s Strategic Plan. Such studies demonstrate a broader usefulness of HUD’s Research Assets that further increases the return on these investments for the taxpayer.