Understanding How Housing and Place Shape People's Lives

Our Issues

Housing and place matter. Quality, affordable housing anchors families. And the communities where people live can influence nearly everything in their lives: where they work and how they get there, the quality of schools that their children attend, their health and safety, even their longevity. With an emphasis on place—from cities and suburbs to tribal lands—we investigate the factors that shape the quality of life in American communities.

Our Approach

  • We evaluate the effectiveness of federal, state, and local policies that govern urban housing and the programs—such as HOPE VI and Promise Neighborhoods—that use housing as a platform for change.
  • We work on the ground in cities and neighborhoods: documenting families’ experiences in public housing, testing programs to combat homelessness, and evaluating community-wide strategies for improving children’s lives.
  • We provide residents with neighborhood indicators that allow them to tackle problems in their own communities.
  • We think about what the next generation of housing programs should look like.
  • We test programs designed to help households and distressed neighborhoods build wealth.
  • We build models, like our population projection tool, that help neighborhoods, metropolitan areas, and rural communities imagine and prepare for change.

Our Impact

We have pioneered innovative research methods to produce more reliable, nuanced investigations of vulnerable populations. Paired testing—using applicants who are nearly identical in every way except race—is one of the most effective ways to uncover housing discrimination. And our National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership is teaching the community development field to look more closely at cities—into blocks, census tracts, and neighborhoods—to focus scarce resources and measure impact. Our rigorous methods give policy researchers more effective tools and policymakers more confidence to act.