The HOST Initiative of the Urban Institute

Housing Opportunity and Services Together (HOST) is a Cross-Center Initiative of the Urban Institute focused on designing and testing effective two-generation strategies to promote the well-being and economic mobility of families who live in subsidized housing. The HOST research team uses a variety of evaluation methods – formative, outcome, participatory, and research demonstration – to produce insights and approaches of value to policymakers, agency executives, resident leaders, developers, and human services providers. 


Formative Work: Working hand and hand with housing agencies and authorities, the HOST team provides evidence-based technical assistance for formative project work. The HOST team has partnered with housing agencies across the country (e.g., in Bangor, Chicago, Portland, San Francisco, and Washington, DC) to support the creation of local HOST models which use housing as a platform for services and supports to stabilize families and support the economic mobility of all members. The HOST team provides targeted TA on financing strategies, service design, performance monitoring, and trauma-informed approaches.     

Demonstrations: The HOST initiative applies findings to further develop models for program implementation. Born out of research on neighborhood effects on youth, HOST develops and implements demonstrations that engage with practitioners and community residents to address tough challenges that undermine the well-being of families such as food security and teen sexual health and safety. Using housing as a platform for program development, HOST demonstrations provide residents the opportunity to become engaged in building and implementing new programming. Examples of demonstration work include the original HOST Demonstration, Teens Food Literacy and Promoting Adolescent Sexual Health and Safety (PASS). 

  • The HOST Demonstration piloted targeting high-need public housing families with intensive two-generation wrap-around services intended to stabilize families, promote better educational and workforce outcomes, and strengthen communities.
  • Teens Food Literacy builds on our research on Teens and Food Insecurity and involves working with local service providers and youth to develop and pilot approaches to improve teen food literacy and reduce the risks associated with food insecurity.
  • PASS is an aspirational adolescent pregnancy prevention program that empowers youth ages 13 - 18 and their caretakers to challenge gendered and societal norms, build healthy relationships, and connect them to local health services.

Research-into-Practice: The HOST initiative strives to put research into practice and create materials that can be used by practitioners, participants, and policymakers.

HOST Network

Supported by a partnership of funders and housing associations, the HOST Network is a learning community of housing agencies, public housing authorities, private developers, human service providers, and nonprofits who wish to build on our findings and each other’s knowledge base to promote the well-being and economic advancement of families in subsidized housing.

HOST Team Members

The HOST team consists of researchers from across the Urban Institute—the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, the Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population, the Justice Policy Center, and the Center on Income and Benefits Policy. Led by Dr. Susan Popkin, the team consists of researchers interested in applied policy research that involves actively engaging with practitioners and community residents. Key team members include:

  • Susan Popkin is the founder of the HOST model and director of the HOST Cross Center Initiative. Dr. Popkin is a Senior Fellow in The Urban Institute’s Metropolitan Housing and Community Development Center.
  • Mary Bogle is a senior research associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute.
  • Marla McDaniel is a senior research associate in the Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population at the Urban Institute.
  • Elsa Falkenburger is a senior research associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute.
  • Janine Zweig is a Senior Fellow in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute.
  • Elaine Waxman is a Senior Fellow in the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute.


Launched by the Urban Institute in 2010, the initial HOST demonstration was funded by the

Open Society Foundations. Over the past seven years, HOST has been funded by the Kresge Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, the John T. Gorman Foundation, the Langeloth Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Open Society Foundations, the Paul Allen Family Foundation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.