Happy New Year 2023
Todd M. Richardson, General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research.
I wish all of you a happy new year! This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R). In 1973, HUD combined functions formerly assigned to three positions — the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology, the Deputy Under Secretary for Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation, and the Economic Advisor to the Secretary — and added other responsibilities to create the new office.
Looking back at PD&R’s achievements over the past 50 years fills me with pride; PD&R’s research, data driven insights and policy advice has shaped, and continues to shape, national and local housing and community development policies.
This post summarizes our accomplishments in 2022 and previews what we can expect to achieve in 2023.
The Year in Data
We released data collected in 2021 for the American Housing Survey and the Rental Housing Finance Survey, both of which feature automated table creators to generate answers to users’ questions about America’s housing.
We also have reported on the latest trends in rent and mortgage payments using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s monthly Household Pulse Survey, a tool created by the U.S. Census Department during the pandemic for taking the temperature of respondents’ changing personal circumstances. Household Pulse Survey data are now reported in our monthly National Housing Market Indicators report as well as some standalone PD&R Edge articles.
The Year of Housing Market Change
In 2022 housing markets went from very hot — with spiking home sales prices and asking rents at the beginning of 2022 — to rapidly cooling, with home sales prices and rents leveling off by the end of the year. Slowdowns were particularly evident in the both home sales prices and home sales volume after the Federal Reserve Board of Governors raised interest rates, leading to a sharp increase in the cost of borrowing. PD&R continued to provide national- and local-level data on these changes through its many housing market publications, including in-depth stories on local markets in 24 Comprehensive Housing Market Analysis reports and 40 Housing Market Profiles.
Big Changes in Program Parameters
Over the past year, the United States grappled with a higher inflation rate than any PD&R staffers had seen in their professional lives. As a result, we had to take special care to ensure that our program parameter data — Fair Market Rents, Income Limits, FHA Loan Limits, Operating Cost Adjustment Factors, and more — continued to support the effective operation of HUD’s programs within their statutory mandates. Nationally, income limits increased 10.0 percent between fiscal year (FY) 2021 and FY 2022, and Fair Market Rents (FMRs) increased 10.4 percent between FY 2022 and FY 2023. One innovation tested for FMRs this year was using more current private sector data to supplement traditional public sector data.
The Year of Landing Pages on HUD User
My favorite bookstores offer shelves with staff recommendations. This year, PD&R revamped the landing page for our research reports to include the most important and recommended research within each of our domains of study.
A few examples are landing pages for collections, such as our signature Worst Case Housing Needs reports to Congress, as well as reports on the Family Options Study, the Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing Demonstration, the Sustainable Construction in Indian Country initiative, the HUD First-time Homebuyer Study, and our housing discrimination research.
PD&R’s body of work encompasses 50 years of research and studies that still resonate today, including reports from the Experimental Housing Allowance Program, the research that led to the development of the Housing Choice Voucher program; Operation Breakthrough, the research that led to the development of manufactured housing codes and much more; and a great publication called HUD Challenge, which ran from 1969 to 1978 and which recounted the histories of many of HUD programs that persist to this day, including the creation of PD&R itself.
New Research Studies
Research PD&R published in 2022 included the following:
One major area of ongoing research is possible thanks to Congress’ expansion of the Moving to Work (MTW) initiative from 39 to 139 public housing agencies (PHAs). MTW gives PHAs regulatory flexibility to try new policies and programs. PD&R is playing a key role in this expansion by ensuring that rigorous research on the effects of these innovations is underway. In one cohort, we are tracking how 31 small PHAs make use of MTW’s flexibility. In another — the Stepped and Tiered Rent Demonstration — we have worked closely with 10 PHAs to design new rent policies intended to simplify program administration and incentivize HUD-assisted households to pursue higher earnings. Those new rent policies will roll out next year as part of a randomized controlled trial with more than 20,000 participating households. Two more MTW cohorts have just begun — one in which 29 PHAs will test incentives to encourage landlords to accept housing choice vouchers, and another in which 18 PHAs will test asset-building strategies to help HUD-assisted households.
PD&R’s research on disaster recovery and community resilience expanded in 2022 to include a new study on recovery after wildfire disasters.
Both Evidence Matters and Cityscape published three issues this year. They are worth reading if you missed them:
In 2022, we restarted several of our most popular public-facing events. In June, we hosted the second Innovative Housing Showcase on the National Mall. We also presented three PD&R Quarterly Updates focusing on the topics featured in the year’s issues of Evidence Matters. In addition, a team from the University of Maryland won our annual Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition.
Congress first funded the Eviction Protection Grant Program in FY 2021 and appropriated more money for it in FY 2022, allowing us to really get to work. The program has selected 21 grantees and recently launched a new website that describes the work and the impact the program is already having on people’s lives.
PD&R continued to work closely with other HUD offices to coordinate HUD’s technical assistance (TA) resources. Hundreds of new TA opportunities were added to HUD Exchange, such as a significant expansion of the Distressed Cities and Persistent Poverty Technical Assistance program that includes “engagement spotlights” highlighting the ways in which TA is affecting communities. HUD also issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to solicit TA providers for a brand-new initiative in collaboration with the Department of Transportation called Thriving Communities. The Thriving Communities Technical Assistance program will help strengthen local capacity to leverage transportation and infrastructure investments funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to meet communities’ affordable housing needs.
PD&R has had a long history of exchanging research and program knowledge with other countries. In 2022, PD&R supported discussions at the World Urban Forum in Poland and at the G7 Ministerial for Urban Development. PD&R also shared policies and initiatives concerning aging in place and disaster recovery with Japan and multigenerational housing developments with Germany, among other exchanges.
Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery
PD&R developed the formula for allocating more than $3.6 billion in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds appropriated to support long-term recovery for 2021 disasters. In addition, HUD issued two Requests for Information on how the office runs the CDBG-DR program. We are inviting public comment on the allocation formula and the program rules in support of a universal notice.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities
In 2021, as part of its efforts to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), PD&R announced its first HBCU Research Center of Excellence grants to Howard University and Texas Southern University. Applications for the next round of funding under this program were due on December 22. We have high hopes that exciting research will emerge from this new program.
Now, let’s talk about 2023, which is starting with a bang. The first order of business is completing several initiatives begun in 2022.
PD&R will issue its first research NOFO for the Hispanic-Serving Institutions Center of Excellence program early in 2023. This NOFO allows us to fund qualifying proposals with newly appropriated FY 2023 funds in addition to existing FY 2022 funds.
PD&R will be publishing several highly anticipated reports in the first quarter of 2023:
National Family Self-Sufficiency Evaluation 5-year follow-up report.
Two reports on Jobs Plus, one on the long-term impacts of the 1990s Jobs Plus demonstrations and one on the new version of the program.
Offsite Construction for Housing Research Roadmap.
Exploratory Study of Factory-Built Homes and Their Implications for Affordability.
Using HUD Administrative Data to Estimate Success Rates and Search Durations for New Voucher Recipients.
Housing and Children’s Healthy Development Study: Baseline Report.
Early findings on the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) Choice Mobility option’s implementation and use.
Evaluating Moving to Work Flexibilities for Smaller PHAs: Baseline Report.
Three reports on alternative methods for calculating Fair Market Rents in rental markets with rapidly rising rents.
Short-Term Funding Opportunities
In addition to continuing several ongoing projects, PD&R will use its remaining research funds from 2022 to issue NOFOs for new grants along with new contracts in early 2023, including a housing technology NOFO.
Several new TA NOFOs cover FY 2022 and FY 2023 appropriations. The Community Compass NOFO and the Distressed Cities Technical Assistance NOFO will be published in early 2023.
As noted above, our new Thriving Communities Technical Assistance program has already received applications, and we will be announcing grantees in either late January or early February 2023.
Long-Term Funding Opportunities
On December 29, President Biden signed into law a FY 2023 federal spending bill providing $145.4 million for PD&R research, TA, and the new Eviction Protection Grant Program:
Core Research and Technology. Up to $71 million, which will include:
- Funding for the American Housing Survey, the Rental Housing Finance Survey, Survey of New Construction, Survey of Manufactured Housing, Knowledge Management (HUD User), building technology research, housing finance research, and Research Partnerships.
- Support housing and community development research at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions
- Support for new research on innovative housing technology, housing finance and housing supply
- Research and Demonstrations. $10 million. This will support rigorous evaluation of HUD programs and demonstration projects, and is likely to continue the following multi-year research projects:
- Housing Choice Voucher Community Choice Demonstration;
- Moving-to-Work Expansion research;
- HUD-DOJ Pay For Success Long Term Evaluation;
- Family Options Long Term Tracking Study; and
- Older Adult Homes Modification Program Evaluation
- Technical Assistance (TA). At least $41.9 million, which will include funding for core Departmental Technical Assistance and set-asides for:
- Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) TA
- Thriving Communities TA
- Distressed Cities TA
- Manufactured housing communities (PRICE) TA
- Recovery Housing TA
New HUD Programs in 2023
PD&R plays an important role in helping program offices kickstart new programs. Our colleagues in the Office of Community Planning and Development are administering three new programs, including the following:
- $225 million for the Preservation and Reinvestment Initiative for Community Enhancement (PRICE) initiative, a $225 million competitive grant program with the goal from the FY 2023 appropriation conference report to “preserve and revitalize manufactured housing and eligible manufactured housing communities.”
- $85 million for a competitive program for “State and local governments, metropolitan planning organizations, and multijurisdictional entities… for the identification and removal of barriers to affordable housing production and preservation.”
- $75 million for a competitive grant program for the construction of permanent supportive housing.
PD&R will bring research, data, and TA to these new efforts.
We expect PD&R’s 50th year to be a busy one.