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Reflection as Inflection

Message From PD&R Senior Leadership
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Reflection as Inflection

Image of Lynn Ross, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Development.
Lynn Ross, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Development.

Last month HUD celebrated a milestone: 50 years as a federal agency. This golden anniversary—and the several months of celebratory activities planned—provides the Department and its many stakeholders with an opportunity to reflect on the legacy of our first 50 years. PD&R is no exception. In recognition of HUD’s 50th anniversary we’ve created a suite of resources now available in a special section of The centerpiece of these new materials is a book being released this month called HUD at 50: Creating Pathways to Opportunity.

More than a year in the making, this volume both looks back on HUD’s history and provides a look forward on how the agency might evolve. If you are familiar with the mission and the work of PD&R, you will not be surprised to learn that this book includes thorough and critical analysis of not only how programs succeeded, but also how they sometimes fell short and what was done in response. Here is an overview of what our wonderful line-up of authors—many of whom are PD&R alumni—cover in the book:

  • Dr. Jill Khadduri of Abt Associates chronicles the Department’s history in detail through the priorities and legacy of each administration—information she also recently shared at a special PD&R event.
  • Dr. Ingrid Gould Ellen and Jessica Yager, J.D. of New York University’s Furman Center explore how the Department’s handling of race and poverty has reflected broader shifts in attitudes in the U.S.
  • Dr. Raphael Bostic of the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy considers the evolution of urban development over our nation’s history with a focus on the rise, fall, and rebirth of cities.
  • Dr. Susan Wachter of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and Arthur Acolin of the University of Southern California examine the changing nature of the Federal role in homeownership and mortgage finance, from the founding of HUD through the system’s reforms following the Great Recession.
  • Marge Turner, Mary Cunningham, and Susan Popkin of the Urban Institute reflect on the Department’s vital work serving vulnerable populations – in particular HUD’s efforts to end homelessness as well as the need to expand access for poor families to neighborhoods of opportunity.
  • Erika Poethig, Dr. Rolf Pendall, and Dr. Pam Blumenthal, also from the Urban Institute, evaluate the dynamic connections between demographic shifts and housing policy, including the changing needs posed by an aging population.

As HUD reflects on 50 years of service, it is natural to consider what is next for the Agency and you’ll find a number of ideas contained in HUD at 50. For PD&R, this time of reflection is also serving as a point of inflection as we consider our research agenda for the next several years.

It is critical that we look ahead not only for the key research opportunities we will highlight for Congress in our annual budget request but also to develop a multi-year agenda that will ensure a robust pipeline of research for years to come. Why? Because PD&R’s research program is essential not only for helping HUD achieve its mission, but also to support decision-makers at all levels of government and across sectors as they consider evidence-based policies. That’s why we have launched the first major update to the Research Roadmap this fall.

The Research Roadmap is PD&R’s strategic plan for research and this living document drives us daily. Through extensive stakeholder engagement, the original Roadmap identified critical, policy-relevant questions and was designed to guide our research investments for a five-year period.

Since the release of the original plan in 2013, PD&R has worked to advance a number of the research questions identified in the Roadmap which you can see reflected in our recent releases and current research projects. We’ve also launched or expanded additional vehicles to help address even more questions through our partners (Data License Agreements, the Multidisciplinary Research Team, and Research Partnerships.)

PD&R’s Assistant Secretary Kathy O’Regan recently reflected on HUD’s research capacity at 50 and underscored the importance of the Research Roadmap and the inclusive process that led to plan. Like the original roadmapping process, PD&R will facilitate an inclusive process that provides many opportunities for engagement. For this first phase of engagement, we invite you to join in the conversation in our Research Roadmap Forums on We’re seeking your help to answer this question: what are the critical research questions and policy areas HUD should explore next?

While all ideas are welcome, to facilitate a useful dialogue, we’ve organized the forums by seven topical categories reflecting near-term priorities rooted in the four strategic goals outlined in HUD’s Strategic Plan 2014-2018 and an eighth category to capture projects that don’t quite fit a single topic or cut across multiple topics. While you do need to register and login to the forum to participate, your feedback will remain anonymous unless you choose to share your name and affiliation in your posted feedback.

Participating in the online conversation is just one opportunity to share the research and policy questions, ideas, and project concepts that will feed into the roadmapping process. This fall, you’ll also see members of the PD&R hosting Research Roadmap-focused dialogues at conferences including at the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) conference in November. In the coming months, we’ll announce additional plans for the roadmapping process so be please sure to bookmark this page to stay up-to-date.

As HUD continues to reflect on its first 50 years, I hope that you will join PD&R in using this time of reflection as a point of inflection as well. While HUD has made a number of positive strides in fulfilling its mission, there is still much to be done and, from PD&R’s perspective, much to be researched and evaluated. An updated Research Roadmap—one created with your input and support—will be essential to advancing the kind of evidence-based policy-making we need now and in the next 50 years.



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.