Our Goal

With grants and program-related investments totaling $385 million, MacArthur has pursued a goal of access to stable, decent homes for the greatest number of low- and moderate-income American families through more balanced national, state, and local housing policy.

The housing program is now in a legacy phase, with goals of ensuring that research findings, financial innovations, and a strengthened field of practice can pave the way for a next generation of housing policy reform, and a broader base of stakeholders and funders. Formal grantmaking will conclude in 2017, with some grants and program-related investments remaining in force through 2020 and beyond.

Why We Support This Work

Although decent, stable affordable housing is essential to strong, vibrant families and communities, our nation’s limited stock of affordable housing is dwindling, and the supply of new replacement housing falls short of demand. This undersupply affects low-income households hardest: 80 percent pay more than a third of their incomes for rent, leaving less for food, healthcare and education. Moderate and middle income households increasingly face a similar burden. Recent research demonstrates that having a decent, stable affordable home provides more than shelter. It provides important benefits for children’s socio-emotional development and well-being, has profound health affects for people of all ages, and it provides an important platform for economic success.

Our Approach

Since 1999 and across a range of initiatives, the Foundation has invested $385 million in grants and program related investments with the simple goal of improving access to decent, stable, affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families.

Through the Window of Opportunity Rental Preservation Initiative, the Foundation’s support for organizations engaged in the preservation of affordable rental housing has helped create important policy and financing innovations that have made it easier for developers to preserve rental housing, as well as build new housing, in Chicago and nationwide.

In the wake of the housing crisis, the Foundation launched the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission to develop sensible, actionable policy solutions to address near- and long-term challenges and create opportunities to meet the next generation of housing needs. Society will continue to see dramatic demographic shifts in the coming decades as the share of the population over 65 grows, as family structure changes, and as income stability and growth is less certain. The Commission’s report Housing America’s Future: New Directions for National Policy, demonstrated bipartisan support for a comprehensive reform agenda.

Our support for research through the How Housing Matters to Families and Communities research initiative is informing and shifting the dialogue; the work we do in housing to improve quality, affordability and stability is about more than just a roof over one’s head. The Foundation and its grantees are engaging leaders in housing, education, health and economic development to identify ways that we can best meet the housing needs of families and individuals who are unstably housed or burdened by housing costs. Through better coordination between housing and other sectors and disciplines, and through programmatic integration and policy alignment we can improve educational achievement, enhance health and well-being, and provide a spring board to economic opportunity.

In addition to these most recent initiatives the Foundation previously invested in helping to stabilize communities and homeowners in the wake of the foreclosure crisis, and it has also supported an extensive body of research around the public housing transformation in Chicago.

Funding Priorities

The Housing Program's legacy phase will end by 2020. The goal of the Housing Program during this phase is twofold.
First, we aim to secure a prominent place for rental housing on national, state and local policy agendas. To do so, we are supporting:

  • Organizations that provide the field with current, reliable data about the rental housing stock and who it serves;
  • A new data collaborative among universities with housing-focused research centers; and
  • Nonprofit mission-driven real estate companies to inform municipal, state and federal leaders about the regulatory and financial barriers to affordable rental housing

We are no longer accepting proposals for this work.

Second, the Foundation will support efforts to build momentum for the next generation of housing policy that is informed by Foundation-supported research that demonstrates the critical value of housing in people’s lives. To do so, we are supporting:

  • Efforts to communicate and disseminate the research in a way that is accessible to wide audiences
  • Cross-issue communities of practice
  • Engagement with those working in allied fields like education, health and economic opportunity
  • Support for national and local funders—individually and through collaboratives—that increasingly see housing as core to their missions to achieve health equity, educational achievement, and economic security

We are no longer accepting proposals for this work.

Measurement and Evaluation for Learning

An evaluation of the Foundation's Window of Opportunity: Preserving Affordable Housing Rental Initiative was recently completed.

The Foundation will undertake an evaluation of the How Housing Matters initiative and the housing legacy program beginning in 2017.


Updated September 2017

  • The Preservation Compact: A Rental Housing Action Plan for Cook County

    Read More
  • Three Case Studies for How Housing Matters



Portrait of Valerie Chang

Valerie Chang

Managing Director, Programs
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Allison Clark

Associate Director, Impact Investments
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Mijo Vodopic

Senior Program Officer, Climate Solutions
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Mindy Martinez

Coordinator, Chicago Commitment

Media Contact

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Sean Harder

Senior Communications Officer

Evaluation Contact

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Maurice Samuels

Senior Evaluation Officer
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