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Housing Expert Forum: What can we learn from current or previous efforts to link evidence-based outcomes to policy or program development (in the housing sector or elsewhere)?

Welcome to the BPC Housing Commission expert forum! This forum is intended to foster interactive and substantive discussion about pressing housing issues. Each month contributors from different parts of the housing sector will be invited to respond to a discussion topic.

Guest posts are shared regularly with Housing Commissioners to help inform their work.

Have a pressing question you’d like us to consider? Please leave it in the comments section. We encourage you and our expert bloggers to add comments, contributing to the national dialogue on solutions for the future of the housing sector.

Expert bloggers are not members of the BPC Housing Commission. Any views expressed on this forum do not necessarily represent the views of the Housing Commission, its Co-Chairs, or the Bipartisan Policy Center.


What can we learn from current or previous efforts to link evidence-based outcomes to policy or program development (in the housing sector or elsewhere)?

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If at first you don’t succeed try, try again … and again?

By Brian Montgomery

Since the financial crisis of 2008 and the ensuing collapse of the housing market, federal agencies and two administrations have sought to provide government-supported relief to American homeowners facing falling home prices and unsustainable mortgages. But what do we have to show for it?

FHASecure was one of the first programs designed to protect homeowners at risk of foreclosure. When initially launched, only borrowers that were current on their mortgage could participate thus original estimates projected only 60,000 homeowners would be aided by the program (New York Times). Later, delinquent borrowers were eligible to participate and ultimately more than 500,000 borrowers were refinanced.

Read the full post here.


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Reward providers that tie stable housing to educational achievement, better health

By Michael Bodaken

Addressing our nation’s health, education, and economic concerns depends on a balanced housing policy with sufficient, targeted, efficient resources that ensure access to affordable, safe, and secure housing for all Americans.

Housing, education, health, and other social policies cannot and do not operate in isolation. As recent studies have shown, evidence-based outcomes of affordable housing align with traditional categories of public concern. In my last post, I highlighted the correlation between residing in affordable housing and better health outcomes for elderly and families. Likewise, green, energy efficient, stable housing has been linked to reduced incidence of hospitalization, childhood anemia, and respiratory illness.

Read the full post here.


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The Laws of Unintended Consequence

By Robert J. Cristiano

Housing policy intended to provide homeownership to those ill-prepared for it has cost the taxpayer approximately $200 billion to date. Had Congress used pilot programs to study the effects of intended policy with evidence-based outcomes, they would have seen the defaults by sub-prime borrowers in a local market before it became a national crisis and disgrace. Using evidence-based outcomes as a basis for policy would have allowed policymakers to test ideas in different parts of the country to determine which policy worked best. It did not happen. Instead the ideologically-based philosophy of Washington that led us to standardized forms for Fannie and Freddie, Ginnie and the FHA drove the policy that politicians can devise a standard one size fits all housing policy.

Read the full post here.


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Politics Aside, Washington Must Improve Link Between Evaluation and Policy Development

By Kent Watkins

There are a myriad of issues, both value-driven and details-driven, to address with regard to program evaluation design. HUD has a reputation of being one of the least prone to link solid evaluation to its policy development and provide the necessary funds or oversight to its programs’ evaluation. It has improved considerably in the last few years and waxes and wanes not by political party, but by the leadership of the agency.

There are always values and assumptions involved, but we should avoid the extremes. The science should be continually challenged as well, both within its own theoretical constructs of replicability and transparency. Evidence-based science was used along with deductive reasoning by both political parties. In the end, it took ?moderates’ from both parties to make some giant leaps forward after incremental gains made in the past hundreds of years.

Read the full post here.


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Evidence-Based Outcomes Boost Support for Critical Programs

By Eileen Fitzgerald

At NeighborWorks, we have seen some great successes where evidence-based outcomes have maintained support for programs and have altered on-the-ground practices. The best example is with the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling program (NFMC), a federal program administered by NeighborWorks America through which foreclosure counseling has been provided to over 1.3 million people. The Urban Institute did a three-year evaluation of NFMC, looking at 180,000 NFMC homeowners and matched a comparison set of non-NFMC homeowners using servicer-reported data. The study found that homeowners who received NFMC counseling were nearly twice as likely to obtain a mortgage modification and at least 67% more likely to remain current on their mortgage nine months after receiving one. On average, these counseled homeowners received mortgage modifications that lowered their payments by $176 more per month than homeowners who didn’t work with NFMC counselors ? a savings of close to $2,100 a year. These findings have helped maintain critical support for the program?currently in its sixth round.

Read the full post here.


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Why do we tolerate housing programs that measure nothing?

By David A. Smith

Affordable housing is a device to improve people’s lives ? yet no one observes, much less measures, life improvement connected with housing.

In public-policy terms, we justify creating, maintaining, and preserving affordable housing in the belief that providing disadvantaged populations ? poor families with children and poor elderly ? with a quality home environment they cannot afford for themselves will establish a physical haven from which their lives can become better. We extend that by targeting vulnerable populations ? the disabled, the extremely poor, the substance abusers, and the frail elderly ? for whom we use the housing as a locus for service delivery.

Read the full post here.


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To know where you are going, you need to know where you have been

By Angela Antonelli

Should evidence-based outcomes be available and used to shape policy or program development? Yes, of course. In the last several decades, more and better quality data and analysis has allowed us to understand the nature of the elderly, poverty, and discrimination as well as workplace and environmental health and safety concerns and contributed to the creation of important federal regulatory and social safety net programs. Many federal agencies have policy offices, including HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research, which specifically focus on encouraging and identifying new cutting edge research and policy ideas both at the federal and local levels.

Read the full post here.


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Research and evaluation yield more effective programs at lower costs

By Jeffrey Lubell

To illustrate the power of focusing on housing program outcomes, it is helpful to contrast two examples ? one in which research has helped to inform policy development and a second in which an important program demonstration was launched without a strong research design, inhibiting efforts to study its effectiveness.

Case 1 ? Supportive Housing. A landmark research study by Dennis P. Culhane, Stephen Metraux, and Trevor Hadley found that the costs of providing supportive housing for people with severe mental illness were offset nearly entirely by savings resulting from reduced usage of public shelters, public and private hospitals, and correctional facilities. This research has had a strong impact on policy, supporting strong increases in government funding for supportive housing programs which in turn has helped to reduce the incidence of chronic homelessness in many communities.

Read the full post here.


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Three Evidence-Based Lessons for Future Housing Policy

By Barbara Sard

Research over more than 20 years has underscored three lessons that have yet to be fully incorporated in federal housing policy:

  1. Housing assistance dramatically reduces homelessness. A rigorous evaluation of families with children eligible for welfare assistance concluded that housing vouchers reduced the incidence of homelessness by 75 percent. Numerous studies have shown that living in stable housing is linked in turn to better long-term health and educational achievement of children. (The Center for Housing Policy provides helpful summaries of the research here and here.) Beyond families with children, multiple studies have demonstrated that permanent supportive housing ? affordable housing combined with voluntary services in a particular development or in scattered sites ? significantly reduces homelessness of individuals with mental and other disabilities and saves public funds by avoiding hospitalizations, emergency room treatment, and incarceration.

Read the full post here.


Past Forums

April 2012 Housing Expert Forum: What lessons can the U.S. learn from housing programs, policies, or regulatory frameworks in other countries?

March 2012 Housing Expert Forum: How can housing policy be responsive to today’s urgent needs and simultaneously address long-term trends?

February 2012 Housing Expert Forum: What are some of the key characteristics of a healthy housing system? And how can the success of these features be measured?

January 2012 Housing Expert Forum: What should the federal government do to address the inventory of foreclosed properties?

December 2011 Housing Expert Forum: What are the most pressing issues in housing policy today?

2012-06-01 00:00:00

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