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Data License for Access to Restricted Data

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PD&R has the authority to enter into Data License Agreements with research organizations for the explicit purpose of conducting innovative research projects that inform HUD’s policies and programs. Such licenses are appropriate when –

  1. important policy-relevant research questions can only be answered by using, among other resources, personally identifiable information in the possession of HUD
  2. the research organization can offer adequate safeguards for the confidentiality of the data if HUD shares the data with that organization
  3. the research organization does not need funding or other resources from HUD to carry out the research project
  4. the research organization will destroy all personally identifiable information received from HUD at the expiration of the license

The principal researcher(s) on proposed projects for which HUD data are being sought must complete a Data License Application. The Data License Application should be submitted to Applications are subject to rigorous review by a committee of professional researchers. The basis of data requests should be succinctly described, and proposed data use must contribute to the testing of a clearly formulated hypothesis.

Research Priorities

At this time, PD&R is focusing its Data License Agreement efforts on projects that will advance one of the following research priorities:

HUD is interested in research in many areas of homeownership and housing finance, including, but are not limited to: better predicting housing price fluctuations; improving outcomes for struggling homeowners and communities in the areas of foreclosures, foreclosure alternatives, mortgage modification protocols, and real-estate owned properties; finding ways that are safer for both borrowers and lenders to extend mortgage credit to first-time homebuyers and homeowners with less-than-stellar credit; and updating federal support structures for single-family and multifamily housing finance in a reformed housing finance system.

Providing housing assistance for low- and moderate-income families in the rental market is central to HUD’s mission. HUD is interested in research that improves the efficiency and effectiveness of housing programs, including public housing, Housing Choice Vouchers, assisted multifamily programs, and FHA insurance. Priority research questions address (among other topics): (a) improving program operations and responses to changing market conditions; (b) identifying rent subsidy approaches that could more efficiently and beneficially meet the full range of housing needs; and (c) better understanding how HUD’s programs are affected by tenant and landlord behavior.

Specifically, the Department is interested in how HUD-provided housing assistance can be used to accomplish such things as: (a) improve educational outcomes and early learning and development; (b) improve health outcomes; (c) increase economic security and self-sufficiency; (d) improve housing stability through supportive services for vulnerable populations, including the elderly, people with disabilities, families and individuals experiencing homelessness, and those individuals and families at risk of becoming homeless; and (e) improve public safety. To evaluate the ability of housing assistance to positively affect these various outcomes requires reaching beyond the sphere of housing to health, education, and other areas, which may involve targeted provision of cost-effective services in association with housing.

HUD’s goal of advancing sustainable and inclusive communities seeks innovative and transformational evidence-based approaches to deal with long-standing and emerging community development challenges. HUD is interested in research questions such as, but not limited to: (a) implementing proven and cost-effective housing technology in HUD-funded housing or other housing, including green or sustainable construction methods, operations, and products that reduce energy consumption and other negative environmental impacts, while improving affordability, occupant health, or other outcomes; (b) understanding and addressing persistent segregation along racial, ethnic and economic lines, and the role of mixed-income housing and inclusionary zoning in strengthening communities; (c) strengthening urban resilience in the face of climate change, disasters, pestilence, and energy shocks; (d) improving integrated and regional planning for land use and transportation; and (e) understanding the role and effect of anchor institutions (for example, universities, hospitals, and churches) on the revitalization of distressed communities, particularly when the anchor institution engages the community and forms partnerships with local stakeholders for community change.

Data Available Through the Data License Agreement Process

The data license agreement process largely provides researchers with household-level and/or member-level administrative data from HUD’s housing rental assistance programs, including public housing, housing choice vouchers, and multifamily housing (including project-based section 8). HUD also makes data from the LIHTC program available through data licenses. Administrative data available represents elements collected via the Form HUD-50058, Form HUD-50058 MTW, Form HUD-50059 (private project-based tenant form), and LIHTC tenant form. A number of datasets exist for other HUD programs; however, these are not distributed via the data license agreement process at the moment. For more information regarding various HUD databases and appropriate contacts, please visit the HUD User Datasets webpage.

All research proposals should explicitly explain a justification for each data element requested. Please note that due to data quality concerns, data extracts for HUD administrative data are typically limited to the following years: 2003-one year prior to the current year. Data extracts will utilize HUD’s longitudinal file, a point-in-time estimate pulled on December 31st of each respective year. Extracts cover the prior 18 months and only contain the most recent transaction for a household.

Starting June 1 2017, a limited number of variables will be available for request from HUD administrative data. A data dictionary describing available household and member elements is posted to this webpage. HUD will consider additional data element requests on a limited, case-by-case basis; however, due to limited resources, requests may be redirected to the United States Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Center for Economic Studies.

**Please note that as of March 1st, 2017, all requests for data from the Family Options Study or the Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing Study (MTO) must be submitted to the United States Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Center for Economic Studies. HUD no longer accepts applications for data agreements for these datasets.

  • To learn more about the data that Census Bureau has related to the Family Options Study and MTO, you can access that information here.
  • To apply for use of these data, you can access the application process here.

Additional Information

For additional information, please contact or call Dr. Brent Mast in the Office of Research, Evaluation, and Monitoring at 202-402-5933 (this is not a toll-free number). Questions may also be submitted by mail to:

Department of Housing and Urban Development
Office of Research, Evaluation, and Monitoring
ATTENTION: Data License Agreement
451 Seventh Street, SW Room 8124
Washington, DC 20410