Senior Research Associate
Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center
is a Senior Research Associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Center at the Urban Institute, where her research focuses on homelessness, housing, concentrated poverty and efforts to improve family self-sufficiency and overall well-being among low-income families. Ms. Cunningham?s work managing and directing qualitative and quantitative research studies includes developing research designs, survey instruments, in-depth interview guides and statistical and qualitative data analysis. She has expertise in a number of HUD homelessness and assisted housing programs, including Permanent Supportive Housing, Transitional Housing, Emergency Shelter, Housing Choice Vouchers, Family Self-Sufficiency, HOPE VI, and the Moving to Opportunity Demonstration.
Ms. Cunningham was a researcher at UI from 1997 to 2005. Prior to her return in 2008, Ms. Cunningham launched and directed the Homeless Research Institute (HRI), the research and education arm of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. While directing the Homelessness Research Institute, Ms. Cunningham researched and wrote extensively on homelessness and poverty. She co-chaired a Research Council on homelessness comprised of nationally recognized academics and policy researchers, and authored numerous reports, including A Research Agenda for Ending Homelessness and Homelessness Counts. Ms. Cunningham has an MPP from Georgetown University. She is currently directing study that examines the impact of housing vouchers on child welfare involvement and homelessness and writing a book on homelessness.
Expanding Choice: Practical Strategies for Building a Successful Housing Mobility Program (Research Report)
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The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program provides low income households the ability to affordably rent decent housing practically anywhere in the United States. And yet, voucher holders largely live in a relatively small number of low opportunity neighborhoods. In order to fully exercise their housing choice, program participants need quality information about the housing options available and tools to overcome real and perceived barriers in the private rental market. Drawing on the best available research and model programs from across the country, this toolkit provides practical advice on how to plan and implement a housing mobility program to overcome these challenges.
Housing as a Platform for Improving Education Outcomes among Low-Income Children (Series/What Works Collaborative)
|Posted to Web: February 15, 2013||Publication Date: February 15, 2013|
This policy framing paper is one of three that explores the potential for housing combined with support services to create better outcomes for vulnerable populations. Many experts believe that housing can be a platform for academic achievement among low-income students by providing a stable environment where children access high-performing schools and succeed academically. While existing evidence links a lack of safe, high quality housing with low academic performance, little research explores how housing can be a positive pathway to achieving better school outcomes. The authors develop a field building research scheme that addresses this gap to help inform policymakers and practitioners working to meet the needs of this at-risk group. This framing paper is part of a series of field-building research agendas produced under the What Works Collaborative. More information can be found on the What Works Collaborative web page.
Improving Neighborhood Location Outcomes in the Housing Choice Voucher Program: A Scan of Mobility Assistance Programs (Series/What Works Collaborative)
|Posted to Web: May 07, 2012||Publication Date: May 07, 2012|
This paper provides findings from a rapid scan of mobility programs, including interviews with program staff, from across the country. The paper concludes with recommendations for future research, including suggestions on how to design a demonstration program that tests the impact of mobility assistance program.
Finally Voting with Their Feet: Unleashing Market Discipline by Providing Choice to Public Housing Residents (Commentary)
|Posted to Web: October 13, 2010||Publication Date: September 01, 2010|
This commentary shares insights from Urban Institute research into the resident choice option for families living in public housing under HUD's new draft legislation, the Preservation, Enhancement, and Transformation of Rental Assistance Act of 2010.
What Does It Take to Help Families Move to Better Neighborhoods?: The Housing Mobility Demonstration Proposed in the Preservation, Enhancement and Transformation of Rental Assistance Act (PETRA) Is Long Overdue (Commentary)
|Posted to Web: September 13, 2010||Publication Date: September 13, 2010|
This commentary describes the need for a research demonstration that examines the impact and cost of housing mobility services.
Moving Closer to Evidence-Based Policy (Commentary)
|Posted to Web: August 04, 2010||Publication Date: August 01, 2010|
This commentary describes the genesis of the What Works Collaborative, a foundation sponsored research partnership that conducts timely research and analysis to help inform the implementation of an evidence-based housing and urban policy agenda.
The Resident Choice Option: Reasons Why Residents Change from Project-Based Vouchers to Portable Housing Vouchers (Series/What Works Collaborative)
|Posted to Web: July 12, 2010||Publication Date: July 01, 2010|
This policy memo examines reasons why a small share of assisted housing residents may opt to change from project-based vouchers to portable, tenant-based vouchers. We found that in addition to structural reasons related to the local housing market and local programmatic polices, households move for several reasons, including finding a better unit; moving closer to family, services, or schools; or, for some programs that required services or additional tenancy rules, transitioning toward more independent housing. In addition, housing authority staff also reported that some households moved because of poor quality housing and unsafe neighborhoods.
Residential Instability and the McKinney-Vento Homeless Children and Education Program: What We Know, Plus Gaps in Research (Policy Briefs/Metropolitan Housing and Communities)
|Posted to Web: June 24, 2010||Publication Date: June 24, 2010|
This brief describes the McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program (ECHY), summarizes the research, and outlines future research questions of concern to policymakers.
Monitoring Success in Choice Neighborhoods: A Proposed Approach to Performance Measurement (Series/What Works Collaborative)
|Posted to Web: June 22, 2010||Publication Date: May 01, 2010|
The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative proposed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is intended to transform neighborhoods of extreme poverty and severely distressed housing into revitalized mixed-income communities. This paper considers how to effectively evaluate outcomes and measure success in comprehensive community transformation efforts like Choice Neighborhoods. It is divided into two parts: (1) a general framework for performance management in Choice Neighborhoods, including a logic model, and (2) a detailed, evidence-based approach to Choice Neighborhoods performance measurement, including proposed management reports and performance indicators.
Building Environmentally Sustainable Communities: A Framework for Inclusivity (Series/What Works Collaborative)
|Posted to Web: May 20, 2010||Publication Date: April 15, 2010|
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has decided to include two key goals in all of its programs: encouraging sustainable communities and enhancing access to opportunity for lower-income people and people of color. This paper examines the relationship between these two goals through a literature review and an original empirical analysis of how these goals interact at the neighborhood and metropolitan area levels. We also offer policy recommendations for HUD.
|Posted to Web: May 14, 2010||Publication Date: April 01, 2010|
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