Behind the Numbers
Jean Lin Pao, General Deputy Assistant SecretaryWith the federal budget prominent in the news and in many of our minds, the time seems appropriate to reflect on the Office of Policy Development and Research’s (PD&R’s) budget priorities and what they signify. Our budget allows us to evaluate HUD’s programs and generate housing data that are respected, anticipated, and used by both the public and private sectors, including the construction industry, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the Congressional Research Service, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Recent investments in PD&R’s financial and intellectual resources allowed us to continue and expand our role in helping inform the development of sound policies and programs and lead research on critical housing and community development issues.
Between fiscal years (FY) 2010 and 2012, Congress appropriated an average of $47 million annually for PD&R to improve the nation’s housing data infrastructure and research dissemination. Housing surveys make up the largest share of PD&R’s Research and Technology (R&T) budget and the American Housing Survey (AHS), conducted since 1973 in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, is PD&R’s flagship survey. It provides a wealth of information about the nation’s housing stock and characteristics of its occupants and the additional R&T funds allowed HUD to restore the AHS to its historical level of metro surveys. Furthermore, the more robust R&T budget allowed PD&R to fund the Rental Housing Finance Survey, a new and important effort that provides a more complete picture of the characteristics of the nation’s multi-family rental properties, including how these larger rental properties are financed. PD&R also funds three other major surveys: the Survey of Construction, the Survey of New Manufactured (Mobile) Homes, and the Survey of Market Absorption of Apartments. The data obtained from these surveys, along with the AHS and other research, are used to determine the health of our nation’s economy.
In FY2010, Congress enacted the Transformation Initiative (TI) to fund research and evaluation of HUD’s programs which significantly enhanced PD&R’s ability to evaluate the implementation, cost-effectiveness, and outcomes of HUD’s programs and major initiatives. In particular, the demonstrations funded by TI, such as the Choice Neighborhoods grant program, are testing the efficacy of new program innovations, documenting program implementation, and measuring the effects of neighborhood revitalization strategies. Other large scale research and demonstrations funded through TI include housing discrimination, homelessness, housing counseling, and asset-building in public housing. In FY2012, PD&R obligated $32.8 million in TI funds for research, evaluations, and demonstration projects.
To encourage and support important research projects conducted by external organizations and agencies, PD&R recently established the Research Partnerships initiative in FY2012. The program helps leverage limited resources by allowing us to accept research proposals that meet published research priorities and bring a 50 percent match of project funding from other sources. The initiative centers on four key PD&R priorities: learning from HUD demonstrations, understanding the ways housing improves quality of life, increasing the use of American Housing Survey data, and improving the state of housing technology. To date, $392,000 in cooperative agreements for Research Partnerships have been approved for funding, and additional proposals are under review.
Guiding our budget priorities for FY2014 and beyond is PD&R’s Research Roadmap which helps set our research agenda. Going forward, PD&R will rely on unprecedented input from our internal and external partners, stakeholders, and staff to ensure that future projects are as policy-relevant and resource-efficient as possible.
PD&R’s budget enables funding of research HUD needs to support its policies and programs and determine the best way to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality, affordable homes for all. PD&R fills this crucial need by conducting and disseminating robust and meaningful research, surveys, demonstrations, and program evaluations and by sharing best practices. The TI and R&T funds, the cooperative agreement authority for Research Partnerships, and the guidance provided by the Research Roadmap all strengthen PD&R’s capacity to address the cogent housing policy questions facing our nation. This budget year, as always, PD&R strives to be the preeminent source of research on housing, cities, and communities in the United States.