MacArthur will invest $25 million in new research that builds and deepens our knowledge about the ways that housing matters to children, families, and communities.

“A greater national commitment to affordable housing requires a greater understanding of the impact of housing on the well-being of children, families, and communities,” MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton, speaking at New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, said today.  “This new research will produce a deep, empirical evidence base to show how housing affects children’s cognitive, emotional, and behavioral development and how housing choices shape the economic, emotional, and physical well-being of adults.”

MacArthur will create an interdisciplinary research network, bringing together housing scholars, policymakers, and practitioners with leading experts in health-related disciplines, child development, education policy, and labor markets.  The new research network will seek to understand the range of ways that housing intersects with the lives of individual children and families, and with the factors that determine the quality of life and conditions within particular communities. 

Other MacArthur research networks have contributed greatly to their respective fields.  MacArthur’s Research Network on Successful Aging produced a groundbreaking book that thoroughly debunked the myth that aging has to be a painful process of debilitation.  MacArthur’s Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice provided research cited by the U.S. Supreme Court when it outlawed the death penalty for juvenile offenders.

MacArthur will also fund – 

  • Demonstration projects and evaluation research to test the impact of different housing policies, such as the large-scale preservation of affordable rental housing;
  • Rigorous cost-benefit studies, including an assessment of the effects of relocation to low-poverty communities in the Moving-to-Opportunity program; and
  • Research to analyze the factors that affect the supply and cost of affordable housing, including variations among local markets.

In each of these areas, the Foundation will pay special attention to opportunities to cultivate the next generation of scholars. 

“We expect this research to suggest ways to make U.S. housing policy more effective and efficient,” said Fanton.  “We want it to push our country’s vision beyond incremental policy reform.  We want it to provoke more far-reaching, new ideas about the importance of housing and how the net benefits of our investments can best be realized and understood.” 

The need for affordable housing in the United States is growing.  Fourteen million American households spend more than half of their income on housing or live in substandard conditions.  In approximately 70 percent of the country’s 200 metropolitan areas, nurses, teachers, janitors, retail clerks, and police officers do not earn enough to keep pace with the rising cost of buying a modest home.  The nation lost two million affordable rental homes over the past decade as markets soared, federal subsidies waned, owners divested, and aging properties deteriorated beyond repair.  For every new low-cost unit built, two are razed, abandoned, or turned into condos and high-end rentals. 

MacArthur is a leading funder in the field of affordable housing.  The Foundation supports three efforts to improve access to stable and affordable housing: preserving and improving affordable rental housing across the country, transforming public housing in Chicago, and conducting research related to housing policy.

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