On September 16, HUD announced the recipients of the Sustainable Communities Research Grant Program. This $2.5 million grant program supports evidence-based studies in sustainability, and the development of new tools and strategies that promote and implement more effective affordable housing policies. Earlier this week, HUD held a Research and Practice Forum in Washington, DC to highlight the work of the grant recipients and the need for practical and quantitative decision-making to improve outcomes.
Dr. Regina Gray, a Housing Policy Analyst at HUD, introduced the six grantees and moderated a discussion of their research goals and intended outcomes. A brief summary of those projects follows:
Arizona State University
ASU will study the relationship between affordable housing and walkability—defined by ASU as pedestrian-scaled access to services, transit, and a well-connected street network. This study will use LEED ND data, the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s accessability indices, and WalkScore.com’s network distances to help identify the relationship between HUD-assisted affordable rental housing and neighborhood quality.
National Housing Trust
NHT and Abt Associates will analyze the location of LIHTC properties in relation to transit to understand how the preservation of affordable housing units has been impacted by transit preferences in state-by-state QAPs. Researchers will use data from 47 metro areas, as well as interviews with key stakeholders in 15 states.
This project will examine how housing voucher recipients weigh transportation and housing needs with neighborhood characteristics when making housing choices. Researchers will combine neighborhood data, such as crime statistics, school performance, public transit, and other public services, with HUD’s PIC database and its Welfare to Work Voucher (WtWV) and Moving to Opportunity (MTO) programs. An intended outcome will be a publicly-accessible 100-metro-area Neighborhood Sustainability Database.
International City/County Management Association
ICMA will examine local government strategies that foster social equity and contribute to broader sustainability goals by including the entire community in the planning and development process. The outputs will be broadly disseminated among local government officials, including further local government data analysis and case studies of leading practitioners and communities.
University of Miami
This study focuses on Medicaid/Medicare beneficiaries and the extent to which neighborhood walkability is linked to beneficial health outcomes and lower health-care costs. Researchers will utilize Medicare/Medicaid claim submissions and geospatial data on that captures “walkability” for the 350,000 Medicare and 400,000 Medicaid recipients in the Miami-Dade County metropolitan area.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Virginia Tech will investigate how sustainable building principles and products are adopted at the local level, looking at technology diffusion patterns in the homebuilding industry as a whole. Researchers will focus specifically on the distribution of key players (early adopters and champions), diffusion trajectories, and the characteristics associated with early adoption of green homebuilding technologies.