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Selections from the Archives

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Selections from the Archives

Selections from the Archives

The Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) has sponsored groundbreaking research since the 1970s. Many of the research studies and reports remain relevant to today’s housing policy but are often hard to locate.

In order to provide public access to these older, hard to find studies, PD&R staff members have perused their work files to find old out-of-print reports, pulled them off the shelves, so that they can be scanned and archived online.

Within the past year, over 400 reports were made available to the public at, providing access to original research that continues to help inform today’s policy decisions. These reports and studies explore a wide variety of housing and economic development topics. Recent additions include housing allowance demand studies, commission reports, legislative research tools, and assisted public housing operating cost studies. The majority of these materials were prepared by and for HUD and PD&R, while some come from other governmental sources such as major Presidential or Congressional Commissions on affordable housing issues.

Housing Allowance Demand Experiment Reports

One of the most significant examples of housing research conducted by PD&R was the large-scale demonstration project known as the Housing Allowance Demand Experiment conducted in the 1970s. The Experiment tested demand-based housing subsidies for low-income households and led to the creation and improvement of the Section 8 voucher program.

The subjects of the demonstration reports published in 1980 reveal the breadth of what was studied in this large-scale demonstration program: minimum standard requirements, economic and racial/ethnic concentration, income reporting and verification, housing improvements and upgrading, hedonic indices as a measure of housing quality, the search behavior of minority households, subjective assessment of neighborhoods, housing consumption under a constrained income transfer, and participation under alternative housing allowance programs. These topics remain relevant to the current operations of HUD’s voucher program. Both the individual reports and the final report are available online.

Commission Reports and Legislative Research Tools

Also included in the HUD USER Archives are the results of several major historic Presidential and Congressional Housing Commissions. These include “Housing in the Seventies: A Report of the National Housing Policy Review,” issued after the Nixon Administration’s budget showdown with Congress, known as the housing moratorium. This 1974 report was the Administration’s assessment of the history of federal involvement in housing, and the cost-effectiveness of different programs. Soon after its publication, Congress would pass the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 creating the Section 8 voucher and project-based programs and the Community Development Block Grant program.

A New National Housing Policy” was a major compilation of position papers and policy proposals from a large number of advocacy and trade organizations prepared jointly by the U.S. Senate and House Banking Committees in 1987. This policy review led into the Maxwell Rouse Commission, empanelled by the Senate Banking Committee, and whose recommendations led to the creation of the HOME program.

Useful tools in the archives that highlight legislative history include “A Chronology of Housing Legislation and Selected Executive Actions 1892–1992,” a compilation by the Congressional Research Service for the House Banking Committee in 1993. The report begins with the 1892 appropriation of $20,000 for an investigation of city slums in four cities.

Reports on Public and Assisted Housing

Older research and reports pertaining to public and assisted housing that have been unearthed include major studies on operating costs of these types of housing. This group of reports begins with the 1969 “Operating Costs in Public Housing A Financial Crisis” Study. It also includes a 1975 report, “The Development of a Prototype Equation for Public Housing Operating Expenses,” that formed the basis for establishing the long-lived Performance Funding System, which features an annual formula distribution of funds to Public Housing Authorities.

How to Access Other Archived Reports

Access to these reports and brief abstracts can be found at by using the drop-down menu for PD&R Research & Publications and selecting “Publication Archives.” PD&R will continue to explore the possibility of archiving additional historical reports with its private partners and to utilize as a common platform for sharing past research with a wide audience.

Future articles on The Edge will spotlight other key reports and studies from the Publication Archives. Feedback on this project will be welcome, and interested parties can email their recommendations to

Many thanks to David Hardiman who contributed to this article.



The contents of this article are the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or the U.S. Government.