FY 2018 Appropriations
Todd M. Richardson, Acting General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research.
On March 23, 2018, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2018 (the Act). The Act provided $89 million for PD&R’s Research and Technology account, the same level as in fiscal year (FY) 2017. As I noted last June in this column when I discussed our FY 2017 funding, the critical information to know from the PD&R account is in the Act’s explanatory report language.
Quoting directly the from the explanatory report language, the Act provides “up to $14 million for critical research, demonstrations, and evaluations, including:
- Moving to Work Expansion Demonstration evaluation;
- Choice Neighborhood Implementation study (final phase);
- Family Unification Program and Family Self-Sufficiency evaluation;
- Rental Assistance Demonstration and Choice Mobility evaluation;
- Effectiveness Evaluation of HUD's Resiliency Funding in Response to Natural Disasters;
- Family Self-Sufficiency National evaluation;
- First-Time Homebuyer Education and Counseling; and
- Process and Outcome Evaluation of the Rental Assistance Demonstration's Impact on Tenants, Related Protections, and Long-Term Preservation of Housing Affordability.
The agreement provides not less than $25,000,000 under this heading for technical assistance, of which $3,000,000 is for non-profit or private sector organizations to provide technical assistance to distressed cities or regions.
Further, up to $50,000,000 is provided for core research and technology including: market surveys, research support and dissemination, data acquisition, housing finance studies, research partnerships, and housing technology.”
I will first discuss the critical research, demonstrations and evaluations, followed by technical assistance, and will conclude with the core research and technology.
Congress has given us some flexibility for allocating dollars between projects. After careful consideration of likely costs and various priorities, we expect to spend only $11 million on the research projects above and $28 million on technical assistance.
Critical Research, Demonstrations, and Evaluations
We will use the research funds in part to wrap up three existing projects. Those are the Family Self-Sufficiency National evaluation, the First-Time Homebuyer Education and Counseling Demonstration, and the Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Study.
The Moving-To-Work Expansion Demonstration is our top priority project in the Act's list. It also received funding in FY 2017 and we will use the additional funding in FY 2018 to make sure this research is done with very high rigor.
The Family Unification Program - Family Self Sufficiency Evaluation will focus on youth aging out of foster care. This population has been found to have a great risk of homelessness at the time they age out of foster care, and the new FSS-FUP program is designed to reduce this risk.
The Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) Choice Mobility evaluation will focus on an interesting feature of RAD that gives tenants the option after a year to take their subsidy and move out of the RAD project if they choose (they move to the top of the waiting list for tenant-based vouchers), while the unit they vacate will retain the project-based assistance. We are interested to see how many tenants use this flexibility and how the public housing agencies and project owners manage this.
Also related to RAD, the “Process and Outcome Evaluation of the Rental Assistance Demonstration's Impact on Tenants, Related Protections, and Long-Term Preservation of Housing Affordability” will look at the newer RAD projects' financial structures as they relates to tenant protections and long-term affordability.
The Effectiveness Evaluation of HUD's Resiliency Funding in Response to Natural Disasters will primarily focus on evaluating the National Disaster Resiliency Competition and Rebuild by Design projects that were funded with CDBG-DR funds.
Of the projects listed above, our expectation is that the research on resiliency funding will be competed through the HUD Research Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA), while the other projects will be funded through contracts, likely procured using the HHS Program Support Center (PSC). Given lead times on procurements and NOFAs, you can expect solicitations for these projects to be coming gradually over the next year.
The $28 million in technical assistance will serve most of HUD’s programs. The vast majority of these funds will be included in the FY 2018 Community Compass NOFA, although the “$3,000,000 for non-profit or private sector organizations to provide technical assistance to distressed cities or regions” may be through its own NOFA.
Exciting news for the Community Compass NOFA is that it will be a “two-year” NOFA. That means we will be soliciting vendors for both the FY 2018 funds in hand and the FY 2019 funds “subject to appropriation.” We are also doing a substantial rewrite of the NOFA with an eye toward best value.
Core Research and Technology
For the core research and technology funding of $50 million, most will go toward the national surveys on which HUD and the Census Bureau collaborate, including the American Housing Survey, Survey of Construction, Survey of Market Absorption of Apartments, Manufactured Homes Survey, and Rental Housing Finance Survey. We will also continue to fund dissemination activities such as huduser.gov, our various periodicals, conferences and events, and our student design prize competition. We will continue to fund Research Partnerships. We also plan to substantially increase our commitment to housing technology research.
We are looking forward to great proposals for this work. Keep an eye out for our solicitations.