Transformation Initiatives

In HUD's Fiscal Year 2010 Appropriations Act, Congress enacted the Transformation Initiative (TI), which made up to one percent of program funds available for (1) research, evaluation, and program metrics; (2) program demonstrations; (3) technical assistance; and (4) information technology. PD&R plays two roles in the Transformation Initiative, administering the research and demonstrations and serving as the technical lead Department-wide on technical assistance projects. In Fiscal Year 2014, the Congress continues to fund HUD’s Transformation Initiative, including “not less” than $15 million for research with the remainder for HUD-wide Technical Assistance.

- Read more about HUD’s ongoing Transformation Initiative related to the President’s FY 2012 Budget here.Testimony of
  PD&R Assistant Secretary Raphael Bostic, Chief Operating Officer Estelle Richman, and Chief Information Officer
  Jerry Williams supporting HUD’s request for TI in FY 2012 is available here.

- Read more about HUD’s ongoing Transformation Initiative related to the President’s FY 2014 Budget here.


Following is the list of Transformation Initiative Projects

  • Strategic Goal 2, Transformation Initiative funded project
    At the request of Congress, HUD is assessing housing quality and affordability for Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians and evaluating how the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) has addressed those needs. The study's components include a deep analysis of census data, a household survey in all 50 states about housing conditions, a qualitative lender survey, and case studies about issues for American Indians living in urban areas. An interim report, Continuity and Change: Demographic, Socioeconomic, and Housing Conditions of American Indians and Alaska Natives (referred to informally as the interim Native American housing needs report), was released in January 2014. The interim report describes trends in social, economic, and housing circumstances of these populations by using secondary sources. A full report on housing needs is expected to be available in 2016.

  • Strategic Goal 4, Transformation Initiative funded project
    Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (Choice makes funding available for local actors in cities across the United States to plan for and implement revitalization activities in high-poverty neighborhoods containing severely distressed subsidized housing to transform them into sustainable, supportive mixed-income neighborhoods. PD&R is conducting a long-term study of the Choice Neighborhoods program based on the first round of implementation grantees (in Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Seattle). The interim report of this study includes an implementation analysis and baseline data collection. PD&R recently published a report which summarizes the findings of research on the first 3 years of the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative and goes on to focus on the Planning Grants and the neighborhoods identified by the Choice Planning Grant applicants. PD&R is also conducting a survey of households living in each of the five neighborhoods and intends to conduct follow-up research after the Choice Neighborhoods transformation plans have been substantially implemented (approximately 2017 to 2020).

    Access the project page:

  • Strategic Goal 4, Transformation Initiative funded project
    Using Transformation Initiative (TI) funding, HUD entered into an interagency agreement with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to co-fund a rigorous study titled Housing Trade-Offs as They are Perceived and as They Affect Children’s Well-Being. The study investigates how housing options and their links to neighborhoods and schools jointly affect the socio-emotional development, academic achievement, and health of children ages 3 to 8. Families with at least one child in that age range will be randomly assigned to either receive a housing choice voucher or not. Random assignment is the basis for strong causal inference about the impact of housing on children. The study will also examine a sample of low-income families who did not apply for a voucher.

    Over a period of 40 months, researchers will survey all three groups of study participants-those receiving a voucher, those not receiving a voucher, and similar families who did not apply for a housing choice voucher. Data collected will include family demography, housing quality, cognitive and health outcomes, residential preferences and tradeoffs (including data from a vignette study), and interviewer rating of neighborhood features thought to be key to child development. The study will advance knowledge by producing strong evidence about how families make housing choices, the impact of those choices on children, and the impact of receiving a housing choice voucher on families’ choices and children's outcomes.

  • Strategic Goal 3, Transformation Initiative funded project
    The Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program serves voucher holders and residents of public housing, and aims to increase a family’s income and savings. Case managers work with families to connect them with services and employment opportunities while money accumulates in an escrow account.

    The intent of the FSS program demonstration is to gain a deeper understanding of FSS and to illustrate strategies that assist participants in obtaining greater economic independence. The demonstration requires a random-assignment model because participant self-selection into FSS limits the ability to assess whether program features (rather than the characteristics of the participating families) lead to tenant income gains. Random assignment will limit the extent to which selection bias drives observed results. The demonstration will document the progress of a group of FSS participants from initial enrollment to program completion (or exit). The study is underway and currently enrolling subjects.

  • Transformation Initiative funded project
    One way of evaluating public policy is to deploy so-called "natural experiments," which make use of policy discontinuities through time and/or across geographic space that create comparable groups uncontaminated by self-selection. Because there is a control group, it is possible to identify the impacts, if any, of the policy in question. Natural experiments offer promising ways to determine whether policies produce their intended effects and whether the assumptions that go into public policy are valid.

    In 2010, HUD provided funding to support scientific research that makes use of natural experiments to evaluate the impacts of local, state, and federal policies. HUD is particularly interested in funding evaluations that can help policy makers determine how to spend taxpayer dollars effectively and efficiently, though other types of projects were also considered. HUD's objective is to promote new and innovative ways of forming evidence-based public policy relevant to its mission of creating strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.

  • Strategic Goal 1, Transformation Initiative funded project
    The objective of the Pre-Purchase Homeownership Counseling Demonstration and Impact Evaluation is to test the effectiveness and impact of two different types of pre-purchase housing counseling modalities on mortgage preparedness, homebuyer outcomes, and loan performance for a large sample of prospective low-, moderate-, and middle-income (LMMI; less than 120 percent of Area Median Income) first-time homebuyers. HUD is working with three national lenders and two national pre-purchase counseling intermediaries to enroll and randomly assign a sample of 6,000 prospective LMMI first-time homebuyers to one of three groups:

    1. Remote online pre-purchase education plus telephone counseling;
    2. In-person group pre-purchase education plus individual pre-purchase counseling; and
    3. A control group receiving no services.

    The research team will track the sample over 3 to 4 years and determine the extent to which their outcomes might result from the counseling intervention they received. The team has been working with the three national lenders to design and implement the demonstration recruitment process, design the study database, recruit counseling agencies in the 28 metropolitan areas to participate in the demonstration, and plan and implement the 8-week pilot period. The pilot period occurred in the fall of 2013. The 20-month enrollment period began in January 2014 and is expected to end in October 2015.

  • Strategic Goal 3, Transformation Initiative funded project
    The HUD Rent Reform Demonstration project is designed to test alternatives to a solely income-based rent structure. Rent reform may impact assisted housing residents in terms of the rents they pay and the amounts they save and earn, as well as the income stream to the housing agency that administers the subsidy. The demonstration will be undertaken at select Moving to Work (MTW) sites, because these sites provide a natural laboratory for experimentation and observation of rent reform strategies. The research team and MTW sites will work with HUD to decide on an intervention that can be implemented at all sites in substantially the same manner.