Message From PD&R Senior Leadership
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HUD’s Research Funding

Image of Todd M. Richardson, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Development.Todd M. Richardson, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Development.

HUD’s research has a life cycle. For the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R), that life cycle begins with the Research Roadmap, followed by a budget proposal to Congress. Once Congress approves our annual appropriation, we know what research we will begin or continue in the coming year.

This post is about the research Congress funded with fiscal year (FY) 2017 appropriations on May 5th.

To interpret the law, we must look at five documents:

    1. The legislative text of the appropriations bill. This text provides the exact funding amount and any mandatory items.

    2. The Congressional Justification HUD submitted to Congress for FY 2017. Unless the law or the committee and conference reports listed below say otherwise, congressional committees expect that HUD will do what we said we’d do in our Congressional Justification.

    3. Senate Committee Report. Unless directed otherwise by the Conference Report, we are expected to do as we are directed in this report.

    4. House Committee Report. Unless directed otherwise by the Conference Report, we are expected to do as we are directed in this report.

    5. Conference Report. Any differences between the Senate and House committee reports are resolved in the Conference Report.

The legislative text is firm. However, for the other four items, we can ask the appropriations committees to change the instructions through HUD’s operating plan. For the most part, however, we usually adhere to these five documents.

For FY 2017, Congress has appropriated $89 million for the Research and Technology account at HUD. The Conference Report provides very specific language on how HUD can use these funds. Below I have quoted the Conference Report followed by a little more information on how we will use the funds.

Core Research

  • “$41,500,000 is provided for various housing market surveys.” As noted in the Congressional Justification, this item funds several surveys conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau on HUD’s behalf, including the American Housing Survey, the Survey of Construction, the Survey of Market Absorption, the Manufactured Housing Survey, and the Rental Housing Finance Survey.
  • “$600,000 is for data acquisition.” HUD purchases more than a dozen datasets from private and public sources to provide critical information for housing market analyses, the calculation of program parameters, and research.
  • “$1,000,000 is for housing finance studies.” This item supports HUD’s data collection for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program as well as additional data acquisitions. Although the LIHTC program is part of the Internal Revenue Service, HUD is responsible for collecting data from state agencies on whom the program serves and the location of properties that are placed in service.
  • “$1,000,000 is for research partnerships.” Regular readers of this column know that we have frequently noted the tremendous power of Research Partnerships to support HUD’s mission by leveraging both external ideas and external funding. We have high standards for these projects: they need to not only support HUD’s mission but also have a sound research methodology. If you have a great research project related to HUD’s mission, a rigorous methodology, and have matching funds, please submit a proposal.
  • “$200,000 is for housing technology.” HUD continues to research innovative approaches to improve both the development and adoption of technologies that make housing more durable and energy efficient.

Knowledge Management

  • “$5,700,000 is for research support and dissemination.” This funding is used to support both the technology and content development on HUDUSER.GOV; the development of PD&R publications, including Cityscape, PD&R Edge, and Evidence Matters; conference planning; graphic design; and editing support services.

Research, Demonstrations, and Evaluations

New Projects

  • “$6,000,000 for a Moving to Work demonstration evaluation.” One of the most exciting opportunities we have to improve how we subsidize affordable housing is tying the expansion of the Moving To Work demonstration to rigorous research. We are excited that the Congress has devoted substantial resources toward rigorous research. Keep an eye out for procurement opportunities.
  • “$1,000,000 for a CDBG small community income study.” The Community Development Block Grant program allows communities to conduct their own income surveys to show that an area is eligible for a “low-mod” benefit activity. This project will develop and test methodologies to make this process more affordable for local communities. We expect to use the Community Compass Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) to undertake this work.

Continuing Projects

  • “$1,350,000 for phase three of a pre-purchase counseling demonstration.” This item funds an option in an existing contract that will allow administrative data matching to measure the impacts of pre-purchase counseling and education. I do want to highlight a sentence from the Senate Committee Report related to this research “While the Committee recommendation includes funding for phase 3 of the pre-purchase counseling demonstration, the Committee will not fund future additions and directs the Department to seek alternative sources of funding for this demonstration should it wish to pursue additional research beyond fiscal year 2017 “. With this authority from Congress, we will reach out to the private and public sector to find an interested party to support the last phase of this important study.
  • “$6,000,000 for continued evaluation of rent reform.” This item will fund a follow-up evaluation of changes in how we charge rents to assisted tenants and their effects on earned income among nonelderly, nondisabled tenants.
  • “$300,000 for the family options analysis.” This will be used as part of PD&R’s expanded use of data matching at the Census Bureau with other federal and local administrative data to explore longer term impacts of a variety of different interventions to serve homeless families.

Technical Assistance

  • “Not less than $23 million for Technical Assistance.” These funds will largely be included in the Community Compass NOFA. At HUD, we refer to these funds as “Departmentwide TA,” and we use them to support a wide range of technical assistance activities. Learn more about HUD’s technical assistance at the HUDEXCHANGE.INFO website and keep an eye out for the FY 2017 Community Compass NOFA.