MacArthur announced competitive research grants totaling nearly $6 million to 13 institutions to explore how housing matters to children, families, and communities. The grants will be used to produce a base of empirical evidence to show how housing affects children’s cognitive, emotional, and behavioral development and how housing choices shape the economic, physical, and emotional well-being of adults.

These research grants, selected from 217 applicants, are the first in a series of awards under the Foundation’s $25 million initiative on how housing matters to communities and families. The initiative is based on the premise that stable, affordable housing may be an essential platform that promotes positive outcomes in education, employment, and physical health by helping to ensure a greater return from other social and public investments.

The Foundation continues to help build the research base and is seeking a second round of grant proposals beginning this month. Initial proposals are due March 22.

“These research efforts will bring to bear the diverse expertise of economists, sociologists, clinicians, and practitioners on housing and deepen our understanding of how housing policy can enhance the well-being of families and neighborhoods beyond providing shelter,” said Michael Stegman, MacArthur’s Director of Policy and Housing.  “By fostering this interdisciplinary research, MacArthur seeks to help advance how policymakers think about housing, improve the ways we design and target housing assistance programs with the scarce resources available, and, ultimately, help families lead healthier, more successful lives.”

The 13 grant recipients are:

  • Columbia University — $427,000 to the Department of Economics to research the effects of environmental policy on infants in poor and minority neighborhoods;
  • Cornell University — $360,000 to the College of Human Ecology to research the intersection between mental health and housing among young children;
  • Johns Hopkins University — $300,000 to the Institute for Policy Studies to research the relationship between housing affordability and parental investment in children;
  • Ohio State University — $646,000 to the Research Foundation to research the effects that housing has on the well-being of children;
  • Princeton University — $10,000 to support an ethnographic dissertation on the social organization of suburban poverty;
  • RAND Corporation — $300,000 to research inclusionary zoning;
  • St. Michael’s Hospital (Toronto) — $738,000 to the Centre for Research on Inner City Health to research the effects of mixed-income housing redevelopment on mental health and child development;
  • University of Illinois at Chicago — $390,000 to the Jane Addams College of Social Work to assess adolescents’ emotional well-being following foreclosure;
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — $226,000 to the School of Social Work to research the effect that housing assistance and instability has on children’s health;
  • University of Michigan — $750,000 to the National Poverty Center to research the effects of the foreclosure and economic crisis on vulnerable workers and families;
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison — $194,000 to the Institute for Research on Poverty to support a benefit-cost analysis of rental subsidies and economic dependence among low-income families;
  • Urban Institute — $750,000 to research the role of housing in child welfare outcomes; and
  • Yeshiva University — $750,000 to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine to research the intersection between subsidized housing and health outcomes for adults.

In addition, seven “signal” grants were awarded in 2008, prior to the formal launch of this research program. Those grants were intended to provide the research community with concrete examples and demonstrate the Foundation’s commitment to enlarging the quality and diversity of the research base that is needed. More detailed descriptions of the 2008 and 2009 research grants are available here.

Further information about the 2010 competition guidelines is also available at MacArthur's Housing Matters webpage. Proposals are assessed based on defined criteria, including importance of the research problem, its potential to inform policy, and the quality of the research design. An external panel of housing experts reviews the proposals and makes funding recommendations.

MacArthur has been a leader in affordable housing for two decades, investing nearly $300 million.  The Foundation supports efforts to improve access to stable and affordable housing, including preserving and improving affordable rental housing across the country, conducting national research related to housing policy, and transforming public housing and providing foreclosure counseling and mitigation assistance in Chicago.

Housing, Housing Policy Research, How Housing Matters, Community Development, Health, Housing, Policy, Research, United States