Current Research

In HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R), our mission is to provide reliable and objective housing research and market data to our constituents, as well as skilled analysis that assists HUD's leadership in making informed policy decisions. We focus on finding definitive answers to questions about what programs work and how they can be made to work better, through quick-turnaround studies and conferences, as well as through long-term evaluations that systematically measure performance outcomes and suggest possible cost-effective enhancements.

Interim reports of long-term research projects serve as progress reports on implementation, share preliminary insights and discoveries made in early phases of a study, and build a basis for analyzing final outcomes. These reports of ongoing research are available here.

The Research Roadmap is our strategic research plan. Through extensive stakeholder engagement, the Roadmap identified critical, policy-relevant research questions and helps to guide PD&R research investments. This fall PD&R is launching the first major update to the Research Roadmap. Stay tuned to this space for updates on the process and in the meantime join us in the Research Roadmap Forums today to jumpstart the conversation.

Using the drop down menu on the right side, find current PD&R project listings by HUD strategic goals, Transformation Initiative projects, and Special Initiatives/Research Vehicles.

You can also search for current research projects by keywords.


Alphabetical list of all current research

  • The overall objective of this research is to provide a better understanding of whether, and under what circumstances, reverse mortgages lead to increased financial security, well-being, and independence among older homeowners who wish to age in place. The decision to obtain a reverse mortgage is influenced by a variety of factors, including individual, market, and household characteristics, but also by the ability of the senior to appropriately evaluate the decision, as moderated by decision frames and access to information.

    Some policy advocates promote reverse mortgages as a means of reducing government expenditures, including health care costs. However, others are more skeptical, challenging that the complexity of the product and vulnerability of seniors creates opportunities for ill-informed decisions that can erode housing and financial stability. There is a tremendous policy need for research that can inform regulations, reverse mortgage (underwriting) standards, and counseling protocols for reverse mortgage clients moving forward.

    This project is funded by the MacArthur Foundation under its How Housing Matters to Families and Communities Grant program, with contributions from ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions (a nationwide housing counseling agency formerly known as CredAbility) and The Ohio State University, along with matching funds from a HUD research partnerships grant. The project is estimated for completion in late 2017.

  • The statutorily mandated American Housing Survey (AHS) is the richest source of information about the nation's housing stock and the characteristics of its occupants, and it plays an important role in assessing the performance of government housing programs. HUD provides funding, oversight, and leadership on the AHS, while the Census Bureau provides operational management and conducts data collection. The additional funding devoted to Research & Technology beginning in FY 2010 and continuing through FY 2011, FY 2012, and FY 2013 has enabled HUD to restore the AHS to near its historical level of 60 metropolitan-area surveys on a 4-year rotating basis.

    The AHS metropolitan surveys are important because they allow PD&R to observe housing market activity at a subnational level. For instance, a metropolitan survey was conducted in New Orleans in 2011, which in turn enabled comparison to the surveys conducted in 2004 (the year before Hurricane Katrina) and in 2009 (4 years after the storm). The surveys in 2009 and 2011 document the change to the housing inventory caused by the hurricane and the subsequent progress of rebuilding efforts.

    The additional funding has also allowed HUD to expand the AHS national sample to include an oversample of HUD-assisted units for 2011 and 2013. This important expansion results in reliable statistics on HUD-assisted tenants' views of the condition of their housing. Finally, the additional funding has enabled HUD to design and implement topical modules on various subjects of interest, including housing modifications for disabled persons in 2011. In 2013, the AHS included topical modules on neighborhood social capital, public transportation and walkability, disaster preparedness, and questions that provided greater insight into the causes of doubled-up households.

    HUD recently redesigned the AHS for 2015 and beyond. The redesigned 2015 AHS includes a new longitudinal s ample with an oversample from the largest 15 metropolitan areas and HUD- assisted housing units. Most of the core content and topical modules of the survey remain intact. A "bridge" sample of households from the 2013 AHS will allow for estimation of longitudinal changes between 2013 and 2015 and facilitate analyses of survey design changes. Posted August 7, 2017.

  • The objective of this project is to facilitate the preparation of AHS data and documentation for the survey's users, both inside and outside HUD; prepare the Components of Inventory Change (CINCH) and Rental Dynamics reports; prepare the HUD Assisted Renters and Their Units reports; prepare and update the AHS bibliography; and highlight the special features of the AHS by investigating housing issues of current concern.

  • 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.

  • CINCH reports measure changes in the characteristics of the U.S. housing stock. Using data collected in the American Housing Survey (which is conducted every 2 years), the characteristics of individual housing units are compared across time. This comparison allows researchers to see not only changes in the characteristics of housing units but also in the characteristics of occupants. Information is available on the characteristics of units added and removed from the housing stock.

    Each report has two sections. The first, labeled "Losses," shows losses to the housing stock in a given 2-year period using the first as the base year. In other words, the first section shows the disposition of all units that were present at the beginning of the period. The second section, labeled "Gains," shows gains in the housing stock during the 2-year period, using the second year of the period as the base year. That is to say, the second section shows the source of all units that were present at the end of the period. CINCH reports are published every other year and describe changes in the housing stock between the years when the American Housing Survey is conducted.

    Rental Dynamics reports examine changes in the rental housing market with particular emphasis on the affordability of rental housing. Using data from the American Housing Surveys conducted during the two years under consideration, it answers such questions as: "Have the number of rental units affordable to households with very low incomes increased or decreased over the period?" or "What happened to the rental units that were affordable to low-income households at the beginning of the period?"

  • Comprehensive Housing Market Analysis (CHMA) reports, available through the U.S. Housing Market Conditions portal site on, assist and guide HUD in its operations and have proven useful to builders, mortgagees, and others concerned with local housing condition trends. For each analysis, field economists develop a factual framework based on information available, as of a particular date, from both local and national sources. Each analysis takes into consideration changes in the economic, demographic, and housing inventory characteristics of a specific housing market area during three periods: from 2000 to 2010, from 2010 to the as-of date of the analysis, and from the as-of date to a 3-year forecast date. CHMA reports focus on major metropolitan housing markets, as well as smaller markets with significant FHA multifamily loan activity. 2017 Report Posted.

  • In 1995, HUD created the Consolidated Plan to serve as the combined planning document (Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy and Community Development Plan) required from state or local governments participating in several large HUD grant programs. The Consolidated Plan is designed to help grantees assess their affordable housing and community development needs and market conditions, and to make data-driven, place-based investment decisions. To support this process, PD&R works with the Census Bureau to produce a custom dataset (the CHAS data) with information on housing needs-particularly the housing needs of low- and moderate-income households.

    The CHAS data were updated in 2009 to rely on the Census Bureau's new annual survey, the American Community Survey (ACS), and have been produced every year since then. In 2013, HUD released CHAS data based on the 2006 to 2010 and 2008 to 2010 ACS. PD&R also works with HUD's Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) to make the CHAS data accessible to grantees preparing their Consolidated Plans. The CHAS data are included in CPD Maps and the eCon Planning Suite; new applications created by HUD to streamline the Consolidated Plan process and provide HUD grantees with a common platform for data-driven decisionmaking. Updates Released May 26, 2017.

  • 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:

  • HUD sponsored the development of the 2002 edition of Durability by Design: A Guide for Residential Builders and Designers to assist those involved in the construction of homes in understanding the issues that result in decreased performance, home deterioration or other damage. While many of the concepts in the report are fairly straightforward, it is not unusual to see that they have not been widely adopted by the construction industry. The revised Durability by Design will enhance the relevance of the material to builders and designers to increase the acceptance of the material. This project will serve to update Durability by Design to reflect current knowledge and performance strategies (through added content or revisions).

  • 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.

  • Launched in July 2015, the HUD eGIS Storefront is a self-service resource for accessing HUD's geospatial datasets, application programming interfaces (APIs), web-based mapping tools, and other eGIS initiatives. It provides internal and external customers with one-stop shopping for agency-wide geospatial data resources and GIS mapping tools by coordinating and centralizing geospatial data, applications, and documentation previously scattered on HUD User, HUD's eGIS Portal, and various SharePoint sites. There are currently 25 geospatial data sets hosted on the site, which represent core mission data valuable to researchers, grantees, and other stakeholders. The site also provides links to training resources for a menu of application tools that will continue to grow as new GIS applications are developed. Data dictionaries and code examples facilitate user navigation of APIs to incorporate HUD geospatial data directly into their own applications.

  • HUD's FY 2008 appropriation included a $25 million to fund the Rapid Re-housing for Homeless Families demonstration program, including funding for a mandatory evaluation of the demonstration. In February 2010, HUD launched an Evaluation of the Rapid Rehousing for Homeless Families Demonstration program. Rapid rehousing is based on the notion that there is a band of families with minimal barriers to housing that could be stabilized with a limited amount of housing assistance and services. Grantees were invited to develop their own assessment tool that would be used to identify eligible families, as well as match them to the appropriate intervention, and to offer short-term assistance (3 to 6 months), long-term assistance (12 to 15 months), or both.

    Twenty-three grants were awarded, and all grantees are participating in both a process and an outcomes evaluation. The process evaluation focuses on describing the rapid rehousing programs established by each grantee, including the target population, the housing/service package offered, and the challenges faced in establishing the program. In addition to the process study, the research team is tracking a cohort of 500 households served through the demonstration program, and interviewing each household 12 months following the end of the household's rapid rehousing assistance. This study has concluded and the process study findings and data from the outcomes evaluation was available in fall 2014. The evaluation outcome report posted April 2016. Twenty-three grants were awarded, and all grantees are participating in both a process and an outcomes evaluation. The process evaluation focuses on describing the rapid rehousing programs established by each grantee, including the target population, the housing/service package offered, and the challenges faced in establishing the program. In addition to the process study, the research team is tracking a cohort of 500 households served through the demonstration program, and interviewing each household 12 months following the end of the household's rapid rehousing assistance. This study has concluded and the process study findings and data from the outcomes evaluation was available in fall 2014. The evaluation is expected to be available in April 2016.

  • The Section 811 Project Rental Assistance (PRA) Demonstration evaluation will assess the implementation and preliminary outcomes of a newly authorized program that provides project rental assistance to state housing agencies to house extremely low-income people with disabilities in scatter units in new or existing affordable housing developments funded by LIHTC, HOME, or other sources. State housing agencies must have entered into partnerships with state health and human services and Medicaid agencies to offer long-term services and supports to participant households. The evaluation of the Section 811 PRA program will be implemented in two phases. The first phase is under contract and will produce a (1) Preliminary Outcome Study (expected November 2015), (2) Case Studies Report (expected April 2016), and (3) Process Evaluation Report (expected September 2016). The second phase of the evaluation is under procurement and is expected to be awarded by December 2017.

  • This study is being conducted the New City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (DHPD). The project, Expanding Social Networks through Mixed-Income Housing, will evaluate the impact of moving to a newly constructed mixed-income subsidized housing development in New York City on the social networks of recipient households. Although most of the hypothesized benefits of this increasingly popular housing policy are reliant upon social interaction across income strata, research to date has largely been qualitative or focused on general neighboring behavior rather than quantitative analysis of the size, composition and activation of social ties formed in these mixed-income settings.

    Using a regress discontinuity design, this study will test whether moving to this type of housing produces measurable differences in bonding and bridging ties. 252 households that received affordable housing at the study site will serve as treatment and approximately 250 households that applied to the site but were deemed ineligible because they fell just below or just above the income eligibility criteria will serve as controls. Baseline survey data and administrative data from the housing application is available for 2,000 applicant households; these data will be used to identify appropriate control households. Funding will support a follow-up telephone survey of treatment and control households in order to generate high quality information regarding neighborhood behavior, activation of ties for instrumental and expressive ends, and the receipt or provision of various forms of support. This evidence will help to test the assumptions regarding social interaction in these types of buildings that is believed to help improve well-being across multiple domains.

  • Fair Market Rents (FMRs) are primarily used to determine payment standard amounts for the Housing Choice Voucher program, to determine initial renewal rents for some expiring project-based Section 8 contracts, to determine initial rents for housing assistance payment (HAP) contracts in the Moderate Rehabilitation Single Room Occupancy program (Mod Rehab), to serve as a rent ceiling in the HOME rental assistance program, and in the calculation of maximum award amounts for Continuum of Care grantees. HUD annually estimates FMRs for each metropolitan area, parts of some metropolitan areas, and each metropolitan county. By law, the final FMRs for use in any fiscal year must be published and available for use at the start of that fiscal year (October 1)..

    FMRs are gross rent estimates. They include the shelter rent plus the cost of all tenant-paid utilities, except telephones, cable or satellite television service, and Internet service. HUD sets FMRs to assure that a sufficient supply of rental housing is available to program participants. To accomplish this objective, FMRs must be both high enough to permit a selection of units and neighborhoods, and low enough to serve as many low-income families as possible. The level at which FMRs are set is expressed as a percentile point within the rent distribution of standard-quality rental housing units. The current definition used is the 40th percentile rent, the dollar amount below which 40 percent of the standard-quality rental housing units are rented. The 40th percentile rent is drawn from the distribution of rents of all units occupied by recent movers (renter households who moved to their present residence within the past 15 months). HUD is required to ensure that FMRs exclude non-market rental housing in their computation. Therefore, HUD excludes all units falling below a specified rent level determined from public housing rents in HUD's program databases as likely to be either assisted housing or otherwise at a below-market rent, and units less than 2 years old.

  • 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.

  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 appropriated $3.5 billion for HUD to distribute to public housing agencies and $235 million for privately owned, multifamily assisted housing to perform green and energy retrofits. The expected benefits of these funds were to enhance the quality, longevity, and energy efficiency of HUD's existing housing stock, and to assist in the creation and preservation of jobs. This initiative was also intended to support the nation's economic recovery, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and consumer energy costs, and broaden the nation's stock of green and energy-efficient affordable housing. PD&R developed an evaluation to assess the effectiveness of the distributed funds. The Green and Energy Retrofit Assessment (GERA) study will span 4 years and will evaluate the short- and long-term performance of the energy investments. The evaluation will consist of four broad efforts:

    1. Developing an energy savings model;
    2. Validating the model;
    3. Updating the model; and
    4. Reporting the findings.
    The resulting report will include an analysis of the cost, implementation, and energy savings associated with the completed retrofits.

  • PD&R has a memorandum of understanding with the National Center for Health Statistics to geocode their survey datasets and also to link administrative records for HUD-assisted individuals with respondents to the National Health Interview Survey and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. These national surveys provide timely information on a range of health indicators, including health status and access to health care. HUD and NCHS are currently preparing a descriptive report of both the data matching process and preliminary findings. The two agencies are in the early stages of identifying priority research questions that they can jointly investigate.

  • The Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) will utilize technical assistance resources to support the matching and analysis of Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) data and local Medicaid data in up to six communities. This project will document the impact of providing permanent supportive housing to chronically homeless individuals on their healthcare utilization and costs.

  • Congress set aside $10 million in HUD's FY 2009 budget "to test the effectiveness of strategies to prevent veterans from becoming homeless." HUD collaborated with VA and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to design the Veterans Homelessness Prevention Demonstration (VHPD) and awarded grants to five sites in February 2011. The evaluation includes site visits, baseline and follow-up surveys, and use of administrative data to create comparison groups. The VA's National Center on Veteran Homelessness is collaborating with Silber & Associates and the Urban Institute to conduct the data analysis needed to complete the study. This project is in alignment with the 2010 Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, which aims to "prevent and end homelessness among Veterans in 5 years." An interim report was released in 2013 and the evaluation posted on December 10, 2015.

  • The purpose will be to increase the Department's understanding of rental housing discrimination on the basis of familial status. The Federal Fair Housing Act (as amended in 1988) prohibits such discrimination, yet HUD does not know the extent of discrimination against families with children in rental housing. Indeed, to date there are no statistically valid studies estimating the incidence in the United States of discrimination in rental housing markets against families with children. This study will build the empirical and conceptual foundation for producing such an estimate.

  • The purpose of this study is to increase the Department's understanding of housing discrimination on the basis of source of income in U.S. rental housing markets. The intent is to explore and summarize what is known about the nature and extent of source of income discrimination; to determine whether the incidence of source of income discrimination can be reliably measured; and to define and test a promising methodology for identifying and measuring source of income discrimination.

  • This housing discrimination research will focus on developing knowledge of differential rental housing search patterns by race and ethnicity. A wide variety of types of research approaches may be considered. The principal objectives are:

    1. To significantly expand the body of knowledge regarding rental housing search methods used by racial and ethnic minorities;
    2. To thoroughly explore the relative importance and implications of this knowledge for future discrimination testing research; and
    3. To carefully and fully document the research in the form of a final report suitable for use by both researchers and the fair housing enforcement community.

  • HUD has updated the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) database annually since the mid-1990s to include new and rehabilitated properties placed in service. Initially, this data was collected by a contractor that worked closely with the state allocating agencies to compile the information. Following the passage of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) in 2008, and in keeping with its mandate that the state housing finance agencies (HFAs) provide HUD demographic and economic data on tenants in LIHTC units, PD&R began collecting LIHTC property and tenant information directly. The property data are available through an interactive query system at Data are updated annually, usually in the summer. The tenant data are not yet immediately available internally or externally because initially, most state agencies were unable to report complete data on their LIHTC tenants, and also due to the lack of funds needed to develop a system through which states could do so. PD&R is currently developing a database system for gathering the data and creating reports, but this system is not yet operational.

  • The U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have joined in a collaboration to study program exits from the HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. Through a multi-site study, using one-on-one interviews with veterans who have participated in the HUD-VASH program, the project will inform program practices by identifying: 1) barriers for accessing housing; 2) frequent causes of participant exits from the program; 3) housing destinations of veterans who exit the program; 4) practices that lead to the long-term housing stabilization and well-being of participants; and 5) patterns of exit that could improve program efforts to prevent future exits. In addition to collecting veteran-level data, the study will conduct program-level interviews with local Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) and HUD-VASH case management teams at each site to learn more about local characteristics that may impact the participation of veterans in the program. A final report of the study's findings is expected to be released in fall 2015.

  • The U.S. Housing Act of 1937 requires that HUD set income limits that determine the eligibility of applicants for HUD's assisted housing programs. One of the major active assisted housing programs is the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8). HUD's Section 8 Income Limits begin with the production of Median Family Income (MFI) estimates. HUD uses Section 8's FMR area definitions in developing MFI estimates; therefore, HUD develops income estimates for each metropolitan area, parts of some metropolitan areas, and each nonmetropolitan county. HUD calculates Section 8 Income Limits for every FMR area, with adjustments for family size and for areas that have unusually high or low income-to-housing-cost relationships. Numerous other federal, state, and local programs rely on HUD's Income Limits. The most notable of these programs, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, uses a combination of HUD's Section 8 Income Limits and a special set of Income Limits mandated by the 2008 Housing and Economic Recovery Act to determine whether families are eligible to occupy LIHTC units. These income limits also govern the maximum rental rates for LIHTC units.

  • To develop an integration guide for evaluating and choosing appropriate building technology products and systems in both new construction and renovation of single- and multi-family housing. The guide will include simplified best practices and tools for several aspects: economic decision making, performance expectations, and application feasibility. This project is related to two existing PD&R documents: Getting Building Technology Accepted ( and Measuring the Savings of Green Building Technologies ( Related to the former this new effort will shift the focus from manufacturer to end user and related to the latter this effort will provide more information to help make informed decisions.

  • The purpose of this study is to assess achievement of the goals of the partial settlement agreement in Thompson v. HUD, which African American residents of public housing in the city of Baltimore initiated in 1995. In 1996, HUD agreed to a partial consent decree that provided significant desegregative opportunities to the plaintiff class families. The study will conduct research and analysis related to expanding housing opportunity through a program of sustainable mobility using remedial vouchers, and will answer research questions designed to both inform the Department on the outcomes of that case and explore the broader application of lessons learned to reduce racial isolation and concentration of poverty.

    Some of the areas the research will address include:

    1. Analysis of the physical and environmental conditions of the neighborhoods of families using the Thompson vouchers;
    2. An assessment of initial neighborhood choices of families using Thompson vouchers to move to opportunity areas in the Baltimore region; and
    3. The identification and analysis of impediments to meeting the objectives of the settlement.
    The study will also build on an in-house analysis of geographies of opportunity that is underway in PD&R. A final settlement was reached in November 2012 that will allow more than 2,000 additional families to be served. The settlement also calls for the continuation and expansion of the housing opportunity study.

  • This report is produced monthly, with quarterly regional spotlight content provided by PD&R field economists and other HUD staff (CPD). The Scorecard presents key statistics from the monthly Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) reports and FHA loan modifications, as well as key housing market indicators such as mortgage finance costs and home sales and prices. Regional spotlights include narrative discussion of local initiatives funded through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and Hardest Hit Fund (HHF).

  • 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.

  • Initially issued only as a hard copy report, the Picture of Subsidized Households and its accompanying set of data files provide essential statistics on the characteristics of families that participate in HUD rental subsidy programs. This study is widely used by researchers and the public, and is one of HUD's primary tools for disseminating information on the beneficiaries of rental subsidy programs at the national, state, county, public housing agency (PHA), project, and census tract levels. Full data extracts can be downloaded and place-specific queries can be generated at the Picture of Subsidized Households website, which includes recently released 2016 data.

  • 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. Posted on January 18, 2017.

  • The Homelessness Prevention Study was a process study that documented the first two years of the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) experiences. It achieved both a national-level overview of HPRP programs and detailed insight into community-level implementation of homelessness prevention programs based on a nationally representative sample of 500 HPRP grantees and subgrantees, 17 in-depth case studies, and analysis of HUD-required Annual Performance Reports data. In addition, this report begins with a useful overview of literature on homelessness prevention and concludes with lessons of HPRP prevention programs, outlining key questions and research approaches for answering them. A final report of the study's findings posted on November 2, 2015.

  • In another effort to advance the federal-wide Open Government Initiative, in February 2012, HUD launched its Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) database, a public database to help the research community better understand the characteristics of households receiving assistance under the Department's main rental programs. PUMS includes household-level data for 5 percent of households assisted through the Housing Choice Voucher, Public Housing, Section 8 Project-Based Rental, and the Section 202/811 programs. The PUMS samples include data on household characteristics as well as geographic details about where tenants live. With this household-level dataset, researchers can calculate results and statistical relationships at levels of demographic or geographic detail not available in HUD's tabular reports. Data for 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2016 data are currently available. HUD intends to release annual updates.

  • These annual studies provide national estimates of the extent, severity, costs, and sources of rent errors in tenant subsidies for the Public Housing, Tenant-Based Voucher, and Project- Based Assistance programs. Typically released in October, the studies are used to assess HUD's performance in reducing improper payments, an important legal obligation of the Department. They also point out the sources of errors, enabling the Department to target these areas for further improvement. The most recent report for FY 2013 is available at

  • The New City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) is evaluating the Rapid Employment Model in Assessment (REMA), a work-first employment model targeted to single men entering the City of New York's municipal shelter system. The REMA pilot is a test of both enhanced services and a participation requirement. Pilot services include intensive recruitment, close coordination, and case management to foster participation. The employment vendor contracted with City's Human Resources Administration (HRA), America Works, is conducting on-site orientation sessions to motivate clients to participate.

    Shelter staff, HRA staff, and America Works are in regular communication to coordinate services. Employable clients from the pilot shelter are required to apply for Cash Assistance and participate in the program; clients who fail to comply without good cause can be excluded from services until they resume participation.

  • Renewal Funding Inflation Factors are used in the allocation of Housing Choice Voucher funds among Public Housing Agencies. Prior to FY 2012, these factors were called Renewal Funding Annual Adjustment Factors. In the FY 2012 HUD Appropriations bill, Congress changed the name of these factors in recognition of HUD's new methodology for calculating the factors, which now take advantage of ongoing PD&R research aimed at better understanding the drivers of change in per-unit-costs (PUC) in the voucher program. Renewal Funding Inflation Factors have been developed to account for the expected annual change in average PUC in the voucher program using historical program data, coupled with several economic indices used to capture key components of the economic climate which also assist in explaining the changes in PUC.

  • 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.

  • The Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) is a central part of HUD's strategy to preserve and improve affordable rental housing. RAD is designed to provide stable public funding to assisted housing projects, increase the ability of those projects to access private capital, and enhance the long-term viability of converted projects. PD&R is developing an evaluation that will focus on the conversion of public housing projects. The evaluation will describe the types of projects that participate in RAD and associated activities, such as the level of rehabilitation activity, the extent of resident relocation, and the reliance on various financing sources. The evaluation will also measure outcomes for RAD projects and seek to compare those outcomes to similar projects that do not participate in RAD. PD&R also recently published a Notice of Funding Availability for research grants related to the Rental Assistance Demonstration. Interim report posted September 21, 2016.

  • Housing discrimination on the basis of disability is currently the most common basis for housing discrimination complaints submitted to HUD or Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) agencies. In 2010, 48 percent of all complaints submitted were based on disability, and an analysis of the complaints submitted in FY 2010 reveals that 40 percent of all disability complaints were categorized as being related to mental disability. The purpose of this research effort is to increase the Department's understanding of housing discrimination on the basis of mental disability, including the forms and prevalence of such housing discrimination. Specifically, this project will support the following tasks:

    1. The establishment of an expert panel to provide guidance to the contract team and HUD over the course of this project;
    2. A systematic and rigorous review of a sample of housing discrimination complaints where mental disability has been the basis of complaint;
    3. A series of short papers on relevant topics (e.g., housing search practices of persons with mental disabilities, ethical considerations in paired testing with persons with mental disabilities, etc.); and
    4. Pilot testing to measure discrimination against persons with mental disabilities in a minimum of one metropolitan rental market, with the goal of demonstrating a potentially feasible approach to nationwide testing.
    A final report posted September 5, 2017.

  • The newest of the national surveys, the Rental Housing Finance Survey (RHFS), is designed to create a nationally representative sample of data on the financing of multiunit rental housing. The RHFS, conducted in partnership with the Census Bureau, will be biennial, and will include both longitudinal and cross-sectional elements. Initial results from the 2012 RHFS were published in early 2013; 2014 and 2015 RHFS are currently available. With the RHFS, HUD can gain a better understanding of multifamily rental loan origination volumes, property characteristics associated with these originations, and operating cost and revenue characteristics for multifamily rental properties in the United States.

  • PD&R published a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) in March 2015 for four projects to be undertaken using cooperative agreements. These are projects expected to involve substantial discussions between HUD and the selected research teams to ensure that the research successfully answers the questions posed in the NOFA, produces high-quality written reports, and generates datasets that are useful for other researchers. NOFA projects currently under review include:

    • Moving to Work Evaluation
    • Jobs Plus Evaluation
    • Small Area Fair Market Rent (SAFMR) Evaluation
    • Resident Opportunities and Self-Sufficiency (ROSS) Evaluation

  • The Rural Innovation Fund (RIF) helps to create sustainable communities by addressing "concentrated rural housing distress" and "community poverty." It supports efforts similar to its predecessor, the Rural Housing and Economic Development (RHED) Program but on a larger scale. The evaluation is to determine if the higher levels of resources, in the form of grant amounts and leverage requirements provided under the RIF relative to RHED, have allowed grantee organizations to more effectively leverage the funding provided, work with a larger variety of additional funders with greater program impact, and sustain a higher level of operations over the long term.

  • Fair Market Rents (FMRs) are used to define payment standards that govern the amount of assistance that Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) participants receive. HUD currently publishes a single FMR for each HUD metropolitan FMR area. To provide program participants with wider access to opportunity areas, the Department has developed Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMRs), which set FMRs at the ZIP Code level within metropolitan areas. SAFMRs represent a fundamentally different way of operating the HCVP in metropolitan areas; therefore, HUD tested SAFMRs through a demonstration program to better understand the programmatic effects. There were five public housing authorities participating in this voluntary demonstration program, which ran through September 2016. HUD published an interim report on the findings of the Demonstration Evaluation (available at: The demonstration evaluation final report is expected in late summer, 2018. HUD also published a final rule concerning the use of Small Area FMRs. Information regarding the rule is available at: FY 2018 Small Area FMRs for each metropolitan area are available at:

  • PD&R has encouraged academic research in special topics of interest to the Department through small grant programs:

    FAMILY OPTIONS STUDY DEMONSTRATION SMALL GRANT PROGRAM. HUD made four small grant awards to complement the Family Options Study, a HUD-funded, 12-site national study that will be the largest study of homelessness yet to use an experimental design. The grants include studies of (1) barriers to preschool enrollment among homeless families; (2) involvement of homeless families in county-level public services (public assistance, child protective services, mental health, and substance abuse); and (3) the impact of housing interventions on school performance of children in homeless families.

    SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES RESEARCH GRANT PROGRAM. The Sustainable Communities Research Grant Program supports efforts by the research community to build on existing evidence-based studies to evaluate new and existing tools and strategies that promote and implement more effective policies that (1) preserve housing affordability, (2) improve accessibility through effective transit systems, (3) reduce the regulatory barriers to sustainable development and strengthen land use planning and urban design standards, (4) advance economic opportunities that create jobs and promote diverse communities, and (5) address the health of the environment by reducing carbon emissions and conserving energy.

    The four grantees for FY 2013 were:

    • University of Utah at Salt Lake City for assessing the impact of streetcars;
    • University of Texas at Austin for research on creating green and inclusive corridors;
    • Bright Power, LLC, for evaluation energy benchmarking; and
    • State University of New York at Buffalo for development of an analytic tool for siting subsidized housing neighborhoods that offer a variety of housing options, ranging from subsidized rental property to market rate, owner-occupied units.

    SUSTAINABLE CONSTRUCTION IN INDIAN COUNTRY SMALL GRANTS. In conjunction with the Native American Sustainable Building Practices Demonstration, PD&R awarded small grants to analyze and assist tribes in the solution of problems in building efficient and affordable housing on the reservation:

    • University of Colorado, for a best practice manual for compressed earth block construction based on work with the Crow Tribe of Montana;
    • Aleutian Housing Authority, to demonstrate the viability of the stabilized rammed earth construction technique; and
    • University of Colorado, for an applied research laboratory on the Pine Ridge reservation to educate students in the design and construction of sustainable, affordable, culturally inclusive and regionally appropriate housing.

  • Support and Services at Home (SASH) is a program being implemented in Vermont as part of the state's comprehensive health care reform. It coordinates services to support aging in place and health care services in affordable housing developments. HUD is supporting an evaluation of SASH through an interagency agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, and the Administration on Aging. The Research Triangle Institute (RTI) is conducting the study, which will compare characteristics of housing properties that participate in SASH and those that do not, and provide a comprehensive statistical comparison between SASH participants, nonparticipants, and comparison beneficiaries in terms of acute care utilization, Medicare expenditures, transfers to nursing homes, and adverse medical events. RTI's first annual report presenting quantitative analyses estimating the impact of SASH participation on health care utilization and expenditures is available at

  • This report contains data on the number of new manufactured home placements and on sales price, setup, and characteristics of these new homes. Reports are produced quarterly, on an ongoing basis.

  • This study reports on the rate at which newly completed multifamily rental units and condominiums/co-operatives are absorbed (rented or sold). Characteristics such as average asking rents and prices are also collected. Reports are produced quarterly, on an ongoing basis.

  • This study is a survey of the sales volume and prices of new single-family homes conducted in conjunction with Census Bureau's Building Permits Survey. Reports are produced monthly, on an ongoing basis.

  • The 20-year run of U.S. Housing Market Conditions (USHMC) as a print-based quarterly publication drew to a close with release of the final issue, published in February of 2013 and describing conditions as of the conclusion of Q4 of 2012. An all-new, Web-based version of USHMC is now available on and promises to be a more useful and far-reaching information product for those with an interest in housing markets in the United States.

    The USHMC website is home to all the familiar products that our readers have come to expect: National Data tables and summaries, Historical Data tables, and Regional Activity that includes narrative Regional Reports and Housing Market Profiles. In addition, from the USHMC home page, readers will be able to access several other PD&R publications pertaining to regional and local housing market conditions, including the Comprehensive Housing Market Analysis (CHMA) and Market at a Glance (MAAG) reports.

  • Through an interagency agreement with the United States Postal Service (USPS), HUD receives counts of total and vacant business and residential addresses in the United States at the ZIP+4 (ZIP9) geographic level. HUD uses these data for a variety of purposes, including research on neighborhood change; tracking disaster recovery; gauging the foreclosure crisis; analyzing housing markets; and measuring the impact of HUD funding on communities for programs such as the HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME), the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, the American Dream Downpayment Initiative (ADDI), and the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP). HUD is also permitted to make the vacancy data available at the census tract level to government and nonprofit organizations through a permitted user sublicense agreement. Permitted sub-licensees access these data through via a pass-word-protected portal. HUD has received these data quarterly since December 2005.