How Housing Matters

Our Goal

How Housing Matters to Families and Communities 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.

How Housing Matters to Families and Communities is an ongoing $25 million research initiative to expand evidence on the effects that decent, stable affordable housing has on social and economic outcomes, beyond shelter. The initiative seeks to determine whether and how stable, decent, affordable housing has positive effects on education, employment, health and other outcomes. As public resources remain scarce, a rigorous program of near- and longer-term research that focuses on questions of interest to policymakers will make it possible to demonstrate whether and how housing policy can achieve a greater return on investments in range of important areas of concern.

Since 2008, the Foundation has awarded more than 40 research grants, with research projects to be completed by 2017. Early findings show that such housing improves school performance, diminishes health problems, and reduces psychological stress.

Collectively, these research projects represent a mix of in-depth studies on the nexus of housing and a range of other policy domains, including education, health, economic opportunity, poverty, and child well-being. The studies exploit new and existing panel or administrative datasets to discover little-understood trends and relationships. Each project has a clear policy connection and an identified policy audience to directly inform policy formation and implementation.

It is the Foundation’s aim that these studies advance the field and increase policymakers' awareness of how housing serves as a platform for a range of other services and outcomes. This evidence will provide important insight as to how housing policy can be designed to address the challenges families and communities face in a more comprehensive and integrated way.

With MacArthur support, the Urban Institute launched the How Housing Matters website, which serves as a central hub for the research and continued exploration of the impact that decent, stable, affordable housing has on people's lives. In addition, to ensure that the research findings are stimulating dialogue and interaction across policy silos, the Foundation is supporting regular cross-discipline convenings and conferences and has released an annual How Housing Matters public opinion survey


In total, the Foundation intends for these efforts to generate the momentum necessary for housing policy reforms that are evidence-based and promote a range of positive outcomes for families and communities.

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