Research Partnerships: Locally Driven, Jointly Supported
Matt Ammon, General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research
For the past six years, the Research Partnerships program of HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research has been supporting and funding research proposals developed by private and nonprofit institutions and organizations nationwide. This external sourcing of research topics allows HUD to gather data on a greater variety and depth of subjects relevant to its mission. These research partnerships focus on advancing five key areas: strengthening housing markets with homeownership and housing finance; affordable quality rental housing; housing as a platform for improving quality of life; sustainable and inclusive communities; and HUD research assets, which help increase investment returns through program demonstration and dataset production. So far, the Research Partnerships program has supported 27 projects, involving more than $8.6 million in HUD funding and $30.6 million in leveraged funding.
Recent examples of completed projects include the following:
- University of Maryland-College Park, U.S. Census Bureau: Childhood Housing and Adult Earnings-A Between-Siblings Analysis of Housing Vouchers and Public Housing
HUD funds for this project totaled $246,197, which the MacArthur Foundation and the U.S. Census Bureau matched. This project is on the cutting edge of future research by taking advantage of a data infrastructure at the U.S. Census Bureau that connects HUD data with decennial Census and unemployment records data provided by states. The integrated data provide longitudinal and spatial dimensions, along with very large sample sizes. By comparing siblings in households with different numbers of years living in assisted housing, it finds that living in assisted housing as a teenager is beneficial years later as a young adult – increasing earnings and reducing incarceration.
- Urban Institute: What Happens to Housing Assistance Leavers?
HUD awarded $25,000 with $446,894 from the AECF and Smith Richardson Foundation. This paper uses data tracking HUD’s Moving to Opportunity demonstration participants over time, including after they leave housing assistance, to study the factors that cause households to leave assistance and how the experiences of leavers compare with households that remain on assistance. This study finds that those who left housing for positive reasons had at follow up higher median income than those who left for negative reasons, a notable difference of $37,865 compared to $13,950.
- Case Western Reserve University: HOPE VI Data Compilation and Analysis
HUD funding totaled $73,484, and Case Western Reserve contributed $74,484. The project extracts and compiles data for a descriptive analysis to make available an online national database on mixed-income developments. This project is an important contribution to the body of research on the HOPE VI program that has had a profound impact on more than 250 communities nationwide.
We’ve implemented a submissions and review process for research proposals that is accessible yet critically evaluates the content of the proposal. Submitting the proposal is simple; no standard format is required, and HUD accepts proposals at any time through postal mail and email. The review process, however, is thorough to ensure that proposals demonstrate policy relevance and are methodologically sound. Proposals for research partnerships need to show that the research aligns with one of HUD’s research priorities and provide evidence of the required 50 percent cost share. To date, out of the 82 proposals received, we have awarded 27 and have 2 in process, resulting in a rejection rate of two out of three proposals. Reasons for a proposal rejection can include not meeting the proposal threshold, a lack of policy relevance, insufficient methodology, or research redundancy. This review process allows for the vetting and subsequent support of valuable research.
Some of the projects currently underway include the following:
- Policy and Economic Research Council: Rental Payment Data: Improving Renters' Financial Security Through Credit Reporting Payment Data
HUD contributed $18,000 to this project which was matched and added to by the Policy and Economic Research Council, TransUnion, Experian, LexisNexis, and FICO in the amount of $180,325 for a total $198,325 in project funds. This project retrospectively asks the question: what if rental payment history of public housing tenants had been included in their credit score?
- University of Florida’s Shimberg Center for Housing Studies: Using Parcel and Household Data to Evaluate the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and Housing Choice Voucher Programs: Transportation, Crime, Education and Tenant Choice
The University of Florida’s Shimberg Center for Housing Studies is carrying out the research and is contributing $173,700 in project funding. HUD’s contribution of $170,000 brought the project total to $343,700. The question this project asks is how do affordable housing units funded by the Housing Choice Voucher program, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, and the two programs combined compare in terms of transit accessibility, walkability, and travel costs?
- Old Dominion University: Modeling Temporary, Interim, and Permanent Housing Demand & Capacity for Medically Fragile & Vulnerable Populations
Old Dominion University provided $175,000 in project funding matching HUD’s $175,000. The project asks what level of displacement of vulnerable populations should the government be prepared for in the event of weather-related disasters?
These cooperative research projects are an excellent opportunity for HUD to facilitate partnerships that extend its research capabilities while sharing the cost of the research. These partnerships allow key policy topics that further HUD’s mission to receive greater research support. Although we do not lead the research, we do provide funding, data, and knowledge that enhance the research. We believe that the results of these research findings demonstrate the value of these partnerships and the benefits that HUD, and the communities it serves, receive.