Happy New Year 2018
This past year was a busy one for the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R), and things don’t appear to be slowing down in 2018. Secretary Carson is very interested in innovation and research. But before we talk about what to expect in 2018, here are some of the highlights from 2017 for PD&R:
Todd M. Richardson, Acting General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research.
Disaster recovery work. PD&R plays an important role in supporting disaster recovery. This work includes mapping in the days following a disaster to anticipate its impact on HUD interests, conducting research on building homes that can survive disasters, receiving data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to speed up the rehousing of displaced HUD-assisted tenants, and calculating the allocation formulas for the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program. In 2017, PD&R calculated funding amounts for 2016 disaster recovery, including flooding in Texas, Baton Rouge, and West Virginia as well as the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, and calculated initial allocations for 2017 disasters, including $5 billion for Hurricane Harvey recovery in Texas and $615 million for Hurricane Irma recovery in Florida. PD&R will be doing a lot more work on this topic in 2018. Check out this map to see where the damage in Texas was most severe by Census Block Group.
Major research. PD&R posted 33 reports in 2017. If experience is any indicator, several of the studies we posted offer critical research findings that will inform policy discussions for the next two decades. They include the following:
The first report in 20 years on Native American housing needs and programs, documenting the continuing severe housing needs in tribal areas as well as the strong performance of tribes in addressing these needs with limited resources. A sister report on Native Hawaiian housing needs and programs was also published.
Baseline findings from the landmark prepurchase housing counseling demonstration. Expect the first-year findings report in 2018.
Baseline findings from HUD’s random assignment Rent Reform Demonstration. Keep an eye on this study because triennial recertifications and retrospective income may unlock a path to simplifying the administration of rental assistance and incentivizing work for work-able assisted tenants. We also posted the baseline data for the new Jobs Plus program that was designed based on research PD&R supported in the 1990s.
Initial findings from the Small Area Fair Market Rent demonstration. The follow-up report is expected in 2018.
The first of what will be many studies taking advantage of the linking of HUD-assisted data with the major health surveys of the National Center for Health Statistics.
Evidence Matters released just two issues in 2017 after having published four in 2016. Our normal publication schedule is three issues per year.
Since 2011, we have published 21 issues of Evidence Matters, and most continue to be relevant. Those of us working on disaster recovery from hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria may want to look back at the Winter 2015 issue on disaster recovery and resilience; another favorite of mine is the Winter 2014 edition on vacant and abandoned housing.
Our Cityscape journal released three double issues this year.
Volume 19, Number 1. Issue 1: Home Equity Conversion Mortgages; Issue 2: Transforming Communities.
Volume 19, Number 2. Issue 1: Habitat III; Issue 2: The CRA Turns 40. My favorite paper in this volume is in the Policy Briefs section under Departments; it provides some new information on project-based vouchers.
Volume 19, Number 3. Issue 1: Planning Livable Communities; Issue 2: The Family Options Study.
American Housing Survey 2015. We released the data from the first wave of our new sample. I am particularly fond of using the new Table Creator when I need a quick answer. For example, I wanted to know how many single-family homes in Houston were built slab on grade to consider how much damage Hurricane Harvey’s flooding might do. The Table Creator was there for me. (Answer: about 1.5 million homes, or nearly all of them — and most have no stairs to enter.)
Rental Housing Finance Survey 2015. Rental housing represents 37 percent of all U.S. housing units, yet we know little about who owns this housing and how it is financed. The Rental Housing Finance Survey, which also has a Table Creator, can tell us a lot. For example, I wondered whether the owners of single-family rental units can get needed financing. (Answer: yes, for the most part.)
U.S. Housing Market Conditions. We published national monthly reports, quarterly reports, regional reports, and 61 Comprehensive Housing Market Analyses. Among my favorite tools are the “Market-at-a-Glance” reports. The data show that most housing markets have recovered from the recession. After a steady decline, trends show that homeownership rates are back on the rise, and rents, which had been rising rapidly in many markets, are stabilizing.
Worst Case Housing Needs. In 2015, a record number of households had worst case housing needs.
Which brings me to 2018.
We will continue to update the Research Roadmap, our list of projects identified by staff and stakeholders as important research to consider for future funding. Topics to be on the lookout for are more research related to building technology; research on policies to improve self-sufficiency for HUD-assisted nonelderly, nondisabled residents as well as the 3.2 million children living in assisted housing; and highlights of effective local policies that are creating more affordable rental housing.
We will also be working with the Office of Public and Indian Housing to bring in our first cohort of Moving to Work (MTW) expansion sites. As you may recall from other posts on this topic, the MTW Research Advisory Committee has identified potential research topics as part of the expansion, including the impacts of flexibility (deregulation), rent models other than those being studied in the Rent Reform Demonstration, and ways to improve landlord participation in the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
As always, we continue to improve the data we make available on our data pages, including data critical for program operations: Income Limits, Fair Market Rents, Qualified Census Tracts and Difficult Development Areas, Federal Housing Administration Loan Limits and HOME Sales Price Limits, and Community Development Block Grant Low-Mod Benefit Areas — as well as data on program participation, HUD-sponsored housing surveys, and HUD-sponsored research datasets. The Innovation in Affordable Housing student design competition and our HUD Secretary’s Awards continue in 2018 and are always a lot of fun. Finally, don’t forget our many geographic information system tools to help you with your planning needs.
To our many colleagues, friends, and readers, have a very happy new year.