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Overview

The Sustainable Communities Research Grant Program (SCRGP) supports efforts by the research community to build on existing evidence-based studies in the broad area of sustainability and to evaluate new and existing tools and strategies that promote and implement more effective policies that: (1) preserve housing affordability; (2) improve accessibility through effective transit systems; (3) reduce the regulatory barriers to sustainable development and strengthen land use planning and urban design standards; (4) advance economic opportunities that create jobs and promote diverse communities; and, (5) address the health of the environment by reducing carbon emissions and conserving energy. The results from the research performed under the Sustainable Communities Research Grant Program (SCRGP) will fill key data and information gaps and will be evaluated to assist in the implementation of effective policy tools that promote sustainable development and green, energy efficient practices. HUD believes that the results from this research program will enable the Department to adopt a broader sustainability agenda beyond current programs and policy priorities.

Summary of Awarded Research Projects

Arizona State University, Arizona: $500,000

“Are We Losing Affordability in Walkable Neighborhoods? An Analysis of Four Cities”

To date, there is no systematic analysis at the national level that examines the relationship between affordable housing and walkability with current 2010-11 data. As a result, researchers do not have a baseline of information about the degree to which affordable housing is or is not located in walkable places; whether walkability is offset by crime, segregation, and other factors; and/or whether there are some variables that correlate with the prevalence of affordable housing in walkable urban places. This is an in-depth, large-scale investigation of the link between subsidized housing and the walkability of urban neighborhoods. The researchers will investigate where, and to what extent, walkability—defined as pedestrian-scaled access to services, transit, and a well-connected street network—and affordable goals are in alignment. They are attempting to understand whether the benefits of affordable housing in walkable neighborhoods are compromised by negative factors, such as crime, foreclosure risk, low market strength, and racial segregation. Three measures of walkability and accessibility will be utilized: (1) LEED-ND location data for six metro areas, (2) the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s (CNT) accessibility indices at the block level for all metropolitan areas, and (3) Walkscore.com’s network distances between addresses and amenities using Google Map and other sources. The overall objective is to provide housing policymakers and affordable housing stakeholders a rigorous and empirically-based understanding of the relationship between HUD-assisted affordable rental housing and neighborhood quality.

For further information, contact Emily Talen, 480-965-7533.

Arizona State University, Arizona: $500,000

“Are We Losing Affordability in Walkable Neighborhoods? An Analysis of Four Cities”

To date, there is no systematic analysis at the national level that examines the relationship between affordable housing and walkability with current 2010-11 data. As a result, researchers do not have a baseline of information about the degree to which affordable housing is or is not located in walkable places; whether walkability is offset by crime, segregation, and other factors; and/or whether there are some variables that correlate with the prevalence of affordable housing in walkable urban places. This is an in-depth, large-scale investigation of the link between subsidized housing and the walkability of urban neighborhoods. The researchers will investigate where, and to what extent, walkability—defined as pedestrian-scaled access to services, transit, and a well-connected street network—and affordable goals are in alignment. They are attempting to understand whether the benefits of affordable housing in walkable neighborhoods are compromised by negative factors, such as crime, foreclosure risk, low market strength, and racial segregation. Three measures of walkability and accessibility will be utilized: (1) LEED-ND location data for six metro areas, (2) the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s (CNT) accessibility indices at the block level for all metropolitan areas, and (3) Walkscore.com’s network distances between addresses and amenities using Google Map and other sources. The overall objective is to provide housing policymakers and affordable housing stakeholders a rigorous and empirically-based understanding of the relationship between HUD-assisted affordable rental housing and neighborhood quality.

For further information, contact Emily Talen, 480-965-7533.

National Housing Trust, District of Columbia: $348,696

“How Does and How Can the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program Most Effectively be Used to Promote the Preservation of Affordable Rental Housing near Transit?”

This research will shed light on whether state policymakers decide to incorporate transit-accessible affordable housing goals in their Quality Allocation Plans (QAP) in their pursuit of more sustainable, diverse communities. The researchers will compare the impact of various incentives on affordable housing preservation versus the development of new affordable housing construction on local housing markets. In partnership with Abt Associates the researchers ask following question: How can the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, a federal off-budget outlay of over $5 billion, most effectively be used to promote the preservation of affordable rental housing near transit? Analyzing the location of LIHTC properties in relation to transit—holding constant neighborhood, transit, and demographic factors—the researchers wish to understand how the preservation of affordable housing units has been impacted by transit preferences in QAPs. They rely on two primary sources of data to conduct this study: HUD’s LIHTC database and the TOD Database created by the Center for Transit-Oriented Development (CTOD). These robust data systems provide transit information that includes the locations of fixed guideway transit stations for 47 metro areas. The researchers plan to compliment the analysis with interviews involving key stakeholders in 15 states to give contextual support to the results of the quantitative analysis, as well as, a more nuanced understanding of how LIHTC transit incentives impact the preservation of affordable housing near transit.

For further information, contact Tracy Kaufman, 202-333-8931, ext. 129.

The Urban Institute, District of Columbia: $348,696

“How Do HUD-Assisted Households Balance Housing, Neighborhood Conditions, and Transportation?”

This research will shed light on whether state policymakers decide to incorporate transit-accessible affordable housing goals in their Quality Allocation Plans (QAP) as they pursue more sustainable, diverse communities. The researchers will compare the impact of various incentives on affordable housing preservation versus the development of new affordable housing construction on local housing markets. In partnership with Abt Associates, the researchers ask the following question: How can the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, a federal off-budget outlay of over $5 billion, most effectively be used to promote the preservation of affordable rental housing near transit? Analyzing the location of LIHTC properties in relation to transit — holding constant neighborhood, transit, and demographic factors — the researchers wish to understand how the preservation of affordable housing units has been impacted by transit preferences in QAPs. They rely on two primary sources of data to conduct this study: HUD’s LIHTC database and the TOD Database created by the Center for Transit-Oriented Development (CTOD). These robust data systems provide transit information that includes the locations of fixed guideway transit stations for 47 metro areas. The researchers plan to complement the analysis with interviews involving key stakeholders in 15 states to help place the quantitative analysis in context, and to gain a more nuanced understanding of how LIHTC transit incentives impact the preservation of affordable housing near transit.

International City/County Management Association (ICMA), District of Columbia: $500,000

“Local Government Sustainable Communities Research Program: Advancing Social Equity Goals to Achieve Sustainability”

Without a commitment to social equity and inclusive engagement, local governments may establish programs that protect natural resources, reduce energy use, or address other components of sustainability, but do not truly have programs that advance sustainable communities. The focus of the proposed research is to understand how current activities and practices that promote more sustainable neighborhoods are also supported through active and inclusive public and civic engagement? ICMA will collaborate with stakeholder groups to build on the results of a comprehensive survey on sustainability policies and practices by local governments. This survey will serve as the foundation for examining local government strategies that foster social equity and contribute to broader sustainability goals by including the entire community in the planning and development process. The outputs of the proposed research, including further local government data analysis, collection, and case studies of leading practitioners, will be broadly disseminated among local government officials who have the responsibility, motivation, and capabilities to adopt the strategies to improve the health, safety, and welfare of their communities.

For further information, contact Tad McGalliard, 202-962-3563.

University of Miami, Florida: $500,000

“Health Impacts of the Built-Environment among Miami Medicare/Medicaid Beneficiaries”

This study will examine, among Medicaid/Medicare beneficiaries, the extent to which higher built environment walkability is linked to beneficial health outcomes and lower health-care costs. The underlying assumption is that walkable neighborhoods predict the degree of physical activity, which is linked to rates of obesity and related health problems. The researchers will utilize Medicare/Medicaid claim submissions and geospatial data on that captures “walkability” for the 350,000 Medicare and 400,000 Medicaid recipients in the Miami-Dade County metropolitan area. First, built environment walkability factors—such as, street connectivity and density, land-use diversity, and access to transit and parks—will be assessed for each beneficiary’s localized neighborhood, utilizing geographic information systems data available for Miami-Dade County, as well as national data maintained by Walkscore.com. Second, Medicare/Medicaid claims will be examined to identify diagnoses and medical costs associated with treatment that will serve as the basis for the development “illness burden” index. To create an integrated dataset for analysis, the Medicare/Medicaid medical claims data will be merged with a geospatial database. The analysis will involve a quantitative evaluation of the relationship between built environment walkability and health outcomes.

For further information, contact Scott Brown, 305-243-4410.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia: $363,475

“Impact of Market Behavior on the Adoption and Diffusion of Innovative Green Building Technologies in Residential Firms”

The proposed research effort addresses how to promote sustainable and affordable housing through adoption and diffusion of green building. While green principles tackle national and global problems, understanding how these principles play out at the local level sheds significant light on technology diffusion patterns in the industry as a whole. Substantial effort has focused on regulations, certifications, and consumer awareness as means to accelerate green building diffusion, but little is known about market behaviors with regard to diffusion: the distribution of key players (early adopters and champions), diffusion trajectories, or the characteristics associated with early adoption of green homebuilding technologies. This study focuses on these correlates of green building technologies among residential firms. Understanding the diffusion of adoption process is essential to both institutionalizing change in the homebuilding industry, as well as for accomplishing HUD’s broader policy goals related to sustainability. The research utilizes multiple databases that support empirical analysis of the adoption and diffusion of green-building products, product clusters and certifications of builders and buildings. It employs statistical modeling (non-linear regression analysis) and simulations using agent-based modeling. Preliminary analysis will be performed relying on market-based information from certified green building firms and secondary data on various internal characteristics of these firms.

For further information, contact Lauren Magruder, 540-231-8054.

 
 
 

 

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