PROJECTHousing Crisis Research Collaborative Request for Research Proposals

The Housing Crisis Research Collaborative seeks to engage researchers from groups, communities and geographic regions that have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially researchers of color, who are not based at institutions currently represented among the core Collaborative research partners listed below.

We are seeking researchers to conduct research on the following topics that have been identified and prioritized in consultation with our network partners and respond to current knowledge gaps faced by federal, state and local policymakers:

  • Learning from Crisis Response: The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated longstanding inequities in access to safe, stable, and affordable rental housing, and it exposed the weaknesses in our nation’s housing production, assistance, and protection systems. The pandemic also sparked new policies and funding from state, federal and local governments, as well as new partnerships across sectors. Researchers can apply for projects that use data and evidence to identify and share lessons from any one of the following short-term interventions to help inform and shape longer-term rental housing policies and programs:
    • Emergency Rental Assistance
    • Eviction Prevention and Diversion Programs
    • Emergency Housing Vouchers
    • Use of State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for Housing
  • Shaping New or Expanded Federal Housing Investments: There is increased awareness among federal policymakers for the urgent need to address the nation’s growing housing and affordability crisis and several proposals to expand existing federal housing programs or adopt new ones. Researchers can apply for support for projects that use data and evidence to inform the design and implementation of any one of the following federal proposals (or recent legislation):
    • Understanding how the provisions in the recent federal infrastructure package could affect rental housing markets
    • Expanding the Housing Choice Voucher program, including mobility services and landlord incentives
    • Expanding federal funding for affordable housing production and preservation, such as through changes to the national Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, Housing Trust Fund, Community Development Block Grant Program, or HOME Investment Partnership
    • Designing and implementing the “Unlocking Possibilities” program or other federal efforts to increase housing supply by incentivizing land use and zoning reforms or reducing regulatory barriers

The Urban Institute anticipates issuing up to six (6) separate awards for up to $30,000 each to individual researchers or their home institutions. Researchers supported by these awards will be asked to present their research to core research partners in two virtual workshops organized by the Urban Institute: the first will include a discussion on research questions and methods and the second will include a discussion of initial findings.

Any research funded by these awards must be completed and published by September 30, 2022. Researchers may apply for research that is already underway at the time of submitting the application or for new research. All publications supported by this award must acknowledge support from the Urban Institute and the Housing Crisis Research Collaborative and be linked from the Collaborative website.

How to Apply

To be considered for an award, applicants should submit a statement of interest which includes the following materials to the Urban Institute by 5pm ET on Wednesday, March 2, 2022:

  • Research question and approach (two page maximum) that clearly describes which of the above research topics the applicant would be addressing, the specific research question(s) the project will ask, and a proposed research approach to answer the research question(s), including data sources and methods. Applicants should include only one of the topics listed above (e.g., applying lessons from emergency rental assistance for long-term rental assistance programs or understanding the how the provisions in the recent federal infrastructure package could affect rental housing markets). Researchers may submit more than one proposal, but each individual proposal should address only one of the specified topics.
    • Note: For transparency and to avoid undue duplication, we list below the specific research questions that Collaborative partners are currently addressing, but we recognize that the core partner research questions reflect a very small portion of all possible research projects under these broad topic areas. If you have questions about scope of Collaborative research underway and possible duplication, please reach out to Madeline Brown at the Urban Institute, mbrown@urban.org, prior to submitting your statement of interest.
  • Description of research team (one page maximum) that lists the principal investigator and all researchers who will be members of the research team, and for each member highlight relevant qualifications. Please describe how the research team includes representatives from groups, communities and/or geographic regions that have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Statement regarding publication and dissemination (one paragraph maximum) that describes applicant’s plans for publishing and disseminating research. Please describe where the publication will be hosted and any relevant dissemination channels.
    • Note: Collaborative-funded research should be published as research brief, working paper, or other publication by the researcher’s home institution or an institution with which they are affiliated. The publication should be freely available, without access restrictions or a paywall. Research does not need to be published in an academic journal, although researchers are welcome to submit research for publication in an academic journal as well.
  • Proposed timeline that includes dates for following benchmarks: 1) completion of data collection and analysis; 3) completion of draft brief; and 4) completion and publication of final brief. Final brief must be published no later than September 30, 2022; however the Collaborative encourages researchers to complete and publish their research beginning as early as May 2022, especially for topics that relate to current policy debates or build upon research already underway. Applications will be evaluated based on the timeliness and potential impact of the research.
  • CV or resume for principal investigator and all members of the research team.
  • A simplified budget, which shows total personnel costs, subcontracts/consultants, other direct costs and indirect costs.  

All materials should be sent as attachments in Word or pdf to Madeline Brown at the Urban Institute, mbrown@urban.org. Finalists will be asked to submit a detailed budget and budget narrative before final decisions are made. Awards will be announced by the end of March 2022.

About the Housing Crisis Research Collaborative

The Housing Crisis Research Collaborative aims to address the longstanding inequities in access to safe, stable, and affordable rental housing that have been laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic. We provide policymakers at all levels of government with the data and analysis they need to design, implement, and evaluate more equitable and effective rental housing and community development responses to the pandemic and the ongoing rental housing affordability crisis.

The Collaborative is led by the following research institutions: Urban Institute, NYU Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, and Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Collaborative works with the following networks of state and local policymakers to identify needs and inform an actionable research agenda: Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, Housing Partnership Network, National Association of Counties, National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, National Council of State Housing Agencies, National League of Cities, and National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The Housing Crisis Research Collaborative is supported by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Wells Fargo Foundation and managed by the Urban Institute.

Research Currently Underway by Core Research Partners

Eviction Diversion

  • The Furman Center will use eviction data for New York State to explore how default judgments vary by census tract characteristics before and during the COVID pandemic, including after state-imposed emergency protections for tenants. While hardship claims are not observed, we can observe post-default filings and ultimate outcomes for cases from 2016 through 2021.
  • The Furman Center will also examine eviction filings and outcomes within different segments of New York State’s affordable housing stock, as well as relative to nearby unsubsidized housing. How do these stocks differ in terms of both filings and executed evictions, and how did these differences change during the pandemic?

Emergency Housing Vouchers

  • The Urban Institute will explore successes, challenges, and lessons learned in implementing the Emergency Housing Voucher program through interviews with program implementers. Topics to be covered will include referral and enrollment pathways, housing search and navigation processes, supportive services, braiding other funding sources, and voucher and unit retention. We will also collect aggregate outcome data from sites as available.

Using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for Housing

  • The Urban Institute will build on its early research analyzing how localities are using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to identify how SLFRF are meeting current critical needs in the housing market and identifying where there may be gaps without longer-term funding. Urban will scan more states and localities to determine how frequently places are using the funds for new affordable housing development and preservation and will conduct qualitative interviews with a subset of places to learn more about long-term strategies once SLFRF are depleted.

Federal Infrastructure Investments and Rental Housing

  • The Joint Center for Housing Studies will assess how program rules under the Department of Energy Weatherization program and rental market conditions will affect whether expanded funding for this program under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will be utilized by single and multifamily rental property owners.
  • The Joint Center for Housing Studies will assess the potential for new discretionary transportation funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (including the Reconnecting Communities and Healthy Streets programs) to repair damages to communities by: 1) supporting the physical access and safety of low-income renters within grantee jurisdictions; and 2) ensuring a stable or increasing stock of affordable rental units near transit.

Federal Support for Boosting Rental Housing Supply

  • The Terner Center will assess ways in which Project Based Rental Assistance is can be leveraged as a development tool to meet priority housing production needs.
  • The Terner Center will explore opportunities and challenges in implementation and braiding of federal funding for housing production (including the Housing Trust Fund, HOME, and State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds) to maximize housing production in high-need areas. 
  • The Urban Institute and Terner Center will collaborate to catalogue recent state legislation on zoning policy intended to encourage additional housing production, with the goal of identifying best practices to shape future state and federal action.
  • The Urban Institute will examine federal funding flows to local communities that impose strict regulatory restrictions on multifamily housing and other affordable rental housing options to better understand how federal funds can be leveraged to unleash housing supply.
Research Areas Housing