HUD Research Roadmap Finalized
As readers of The Edge may know, HUD has published its Research Roadmap. The Roadmap builds on the Office of Policy Development and Research’s (PD&R’s) exchanges with academics, practitioners, and policymakers to enable PD&R to maintain its leadership in housing and community development research. In 2008 the National Research Council of the National Academies concluded that PD&R’s research agenda did not involve enough outside stakeholders or set enough long-term goals. In response the Roadmap addresses these issues through its collaborative process to identify priority projects. The Roadmap’s five-year plan furthers PD&R’s mission to be a major contributor to research on housing, cities, and communities in the United States.
In 2011, PD&R solicited research questions that align with HUD’s mission and that HUD would be particularly suited to answer. Over the course of a year, PD&R engaged with partners and stakeholders through webinars, public sessions, and internal meetings as well as through its first-ever Research Agenda Conference. PD&R’s efforts to systematically and transparently develop the research agenda, along with its national outreach effort to include outside perspectives in creating this agenda, have set this Roadmap’s development apart from previous planning efforts. HUD evaluated more than 950 distinct questions and comments for their policy relevance, forward-looking nature, opportunity for partnerships with outside agencies and organizations, and ability to take advantage of HUD’s strengths in datasets and other assets and then chose 85 questions to develop into research project proposals.
The Roadmap’s priority projects encompass a range of topics and often include multiple parts. Several proposed projects involve outside partners, whereas others can be completed internally by HUD staff. For each priority project, the Roadmap identifies an explicit research question, explains why that question was chosen, and describes how it will be addressed. It lists background information or previous studies addressing the question and details the policy implications, financing sources, and potential partners for the proposed research.
Emblematic of its mission-driven focus, the Roadmap places each project into a category that matches one of HUD’s programmatic goals, covers multiple goals, or relates to the “data infrastructure” for housing and community development research.
|2010–2015 Strategic Plan Goals||Research Roadmap Category|
|Strengthen the nation’s housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers.||Homeownership and Housing Finance|
|Meet the need for quality affordable rental homes.||Affordable Rental Housing|
|Utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life.||Housing as a Platform|
|Build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.||Sustainable and Inclusive Communities|
The Housing as a Platform category covers a range of studies about how well HUD programs serve various populations, including a proposal to investigate the demand and supply rates of supportive housing for elderly households. This study should provide insight into the future affordable housing needs of an aging population and help define HUD’s role in addressing those needs and perhaps improving health outcomes. HUD lists the Administration on Aging; the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; and the Office of Disability, Aging, and Long-Term Care Policy as suitable partners in this project.
In the Sustainable and Inclusive Communities category, the Roadmap proposes research to estimate the economic impacts of HUD’s Community Development Block Grant and HOME programs. The proposed project would evaluate specific activities that targeted grantees undertake. The results could indicate which program designs are most cost efficient while generating positive outcomes. Other projects in this category would advance energy efficiency initiatives in HUD’s assisted housing programs, offering potential for significant savings in federal subsidy outlays.
An important research emphasis in the Roadmap’s “Crosscutting” category is to accelerate post-disaster community recovery. The objective of this research is to improve regional and holistic federal coordination so long-term recovery after a disaster can begin more quickly and proceed more effectively. The goals of this research are to improve guidance for pre-disaster planning, increase access and use of federal data for local program operations, and restructure delivery mechanisms for rapid, coordinated deployment of post-disaster recovery assistance.
Although the Roadmap is complete, HUD will update it periodically to ensure that the projects and research questions remain timely and forward looking in a rapidly changing policy environment where potential benefits and savings extend far beyond HUD’s programs. While HUD’s budget will ultimately determine which projects can be brought to fruition, the Roadmap has allowed HUD to strategically and transparently plan for its future and collaborate more effectively as a national leader in housing and community development.