Happy (delayed) New Year 2019
Todd M. Richardson, General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research.
As I did at the beginning of 2017 and 2018, I want to take this opportunity to highlight Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) accomplishments in the previous year and share my expectations for the coming year. This message is a bit late because of the lapse in appropriations.
PD&R will be issuing a biennial report next month that highlights our work in 2017 and 2018. The theme of the report is “Forging Great Teams.” As a preview to that report, I want to highlight five areas in which PD&R’s research has strongly informed HUD’s policy efforts in 2018, with those policy efforts guided by cross-office teams:
- Small Area Fair Market Rent (SAFMR) Final Rule implementation. A court order at the beginning of 2018 reversed our plans for a 2-year training and transition period for implementing SAFMRs. Instead, we had only 3 months for implementation. A great team consisting of staff from PD&R, the Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH), and HUD’s Office of General Counsel (OGC) worked with Abt Associates, our technical assistance provider, to develop and implement guidance and trainings from January to March so that approximately 200 public housing agencies could meet the April deadline for mandatory implementation.
- Making Affordable Housing Work Act (MAHWA). Working with another team from PD&R, PIH, and OGC, the findings to date from the PD&R-funded Rent Reform Demonstration informed the proposal of three-year recertifications, higher minimum rents, and simplified rent calculations in the administration’s MAHWA proposal.
- Housing Choice Voucher Landlord Task Force. In response to two PD&R-funded studies showing high voucher refusal rates among landlords and research on some of the reasons why, the Secretary asked PIH, PD&R, and the Office of Field Policy and Management to recommend strategies to increase landlords’ interest in the program. We held listening sessions in six communities nationwide, and in 2019 we will be releasing our recommendations.
- Moving To Work (MTW) expansion. PIH and PD&R staff have been working closely to expand the MTW program by 100 agencies (from its current 39). The four cohorts offer researchers an exciting opportunity to rigorously evaluate major policy ideas for improving housing assistance programs. The solicitation of interest from PHAs for the first cohort recently closed, and we expect three more solicitations in 2019.
- Putting the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program on sound financial footing. For the past several years, the HECM program, which administers what are commonly known as reverse mortgages, has been losing money for the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA’s) mortgage insurance program. PD&R research on one of the reasons for these losses — homes appraised above their actual value — strongly informed a team effort by FHA, OGC, and PD&R to change the program in 2018 to address this problem.
Other highlights from 2018 include the following:
- Two issues of Evidence Matters. I am particularly proud of the timeliness of these issues. The Spring 2018 issue is my go-to source for information about how regulatory barriers are affecting our production of moderately priced housing, and the Summer/Fall 2018 issue concisely summarizes what we have learned about our efforts to improve the economic circumstances of work-able tenants of assisted housing.
- Three issues of Cityscape, including symposia on youth homelessness, the housing-health connection, and selected outcomes of housing assistance.
- On-time updates of PD&R-sponsored datasets, including Income Limits, Fair Market Rents, FHA Loan Limits, Qualified Census Tracts, Difficult Development Areas, and Annual Adjustment Factors.
- The release of 2017 American Housing Survey.
- Data refreshes for Picture of Subsidized Housing and all Geographic Information System platforms, including the Community Assessment Reporting Tool, Consolidated Plan mapping tool, HUD Resource Locator, Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Mapping Tool, and the Choice Neighborhoods Mapping Tool.
- New mapping and data tools, including a tool to assist the Rental Assistance Demonstration program with site and neighborhood rule compliance.
- 45 Comprehensive Housing Market Analyses, 12 National Housing Market Indicator reports, and other housing market intelligence.
Here are a few things to look forward to in 2019:
- The launch of the next Research Roadmap stakeholder engagement sessions.
- Recommendations from the Landlord Task Force.
- The expansion of the student design competition.
- Increased investment in building technology research.
- The launch of a new Office of Innovation.
- The release of data for the 2018 Rental Housing Finance Survey.
- MTW expansion rent reform cohort notice; hopefully also work requirements and landlord incentives.
- Many completed research reports, including the following:
- Evaluation of the Section 811 Project Rental Assistance Program.
- Retrospective Evaluation of MTW.
- Rent Reform Demonstration Interim Report.
- Rental Assistance Demonstration evaluation report.
- Multidisciplinary Research Team (MDRT) Landlord Participation Study.
- MDRT Economic Opportunity Metric for HUD-Assisted Renters.
- MDRT Homeless Predictor Study.
- MDRT Fair Market Rent Study.
- Community Development Block Grant Low and Moderate Income Benefit Area Study.
When we finally receive our appropriation for fiscal year 2019, I will post about the work we expect to accomplish with this funding.
In the meantime, it is nice to be back to work.