How Housing Matters to Families & Communities Initiative
September 1, 2008 | Press Release | Housing Policy Research, How Housing Matters, Housing

How Housing Matters to Families and Communities is an ongoing five-year, $25 million research initiative to deepen the literature on the effect that investments in affordable housing have on social and economic outcomes, beyond shelter. It explores the notion that affordable housing may be an essential "platform" that promotes a wide array of positive human outcomes in education, employment, and physical and mental health, among other areas. A rigorous program of near-term and longer-term research that focuses on questions of interest to policymakers will make it possible for housing policy to achieve a greater return on investments in these important areas of concern, particularly as public resources become increasingly scarce. The research initiative has two components:

  1. An interdisciplinary research network composed of experts in housing, child development, and other disciplines, that is developing and testing original concepts and hypotheses about how housing matters to young children in the contexts of their immediate and extended families, neighborhoods, and schools; and
  2. competitive research competition to build upon and deepen existing evidence in a broader range of areas to further explore the hypotheses and likely pathways or mechanisms through which housing effects may be transmitted.

The competitive research program has awarded more than $17 million to 34 research projects.  Collectively, these research projects represent a mix of in-depth studies on the nexus of housing and a series of social policy domains, including education, health, economic opportunity, the de-concentration of poverty, and family and child well-being. These studies exploit new and existing panel or administrative datasets to discover little-understood trends and relationships. In addition, each project has a clear policy connection and an identified policy audience to directly inform policy formation and implementation. In so doing, these studies will advance the field, increase policymakers' awareness of how housing serves as a platform, and provide important evidence about how policy can address the social and economic challenges of families in a more comprehensive and integrated way.

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