The Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is currently in the process of developing a “Research Roadmap” that will identify critical policy questions to will help guide PD&R research investments over the next five years. While PD&R has undertaken similar agenda setting efforts over the years, the process of developing the Roadmap will differ in important ways.
Throughout its history PD&R has sought to be forward looking and fully engaged with practitioners and researchers in the field of housing and urban development. However, a 2008 report from the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences found that in an era of limited financial and human resources, PD&R’s research-agenda setting process had become “too insular” with “too much of a short term focus.” As a result, the report concluded, PD&R was not “achieving its potential to contribute in a significant way to the ongoing internal and external discourses over the evolution of HUD programs and broader urban development policy.”
With today’s challenging U.S. housing market and tightening federal budgets, the need for PD&R’s leadership and contribution of policy-relevant research has never seemed greater. In the next five years, PD&R must conduct and fund projects that help us better understand the changing world around us and show a path to improved housing and development outcomes for all Americans.
At the heart of our Roadmap is an unprecedented effort to hear from our stakeholders, the offices within HUD and practitioners and researchers across the country. We are asking our audiences two questions. First, “what are the questions that will be important to housing and community development over the next five to ten years?” Second, “where does PD&R have a comparative advantage in responding to these questions?”
Thus far the response has been tremendous. Through a request for research ideas on PD&R’s website, HUDUser.org, we received over 140 comments from a range of organizations, including nonprofits and advocacy groups, municipal governments, state agencies, community development corporations, researchers, students, private firms, HUD staff and the general public.
Following up on the web-based effort, we held a Research Agenda Conference in November 2011 to begin identifying some of the priority research issues related to HUD’s Strategic Goals. Over 100 representatives from the research community gathered from across the country to discuss our questions and vote on top research and policy priorities.
Since March of this year we took the show on the road, listening to hundreds of individuals and organizations at conferences and in special Roadmap listening sessions and webinars to hear what the broader public had to say about the research issues HUD should be addressing.
Later this year, PD&R staff will develop research projects to address the most relevant questions we have received from our stakeholder engagement. In early 2013, we expect to publish a Research Roadmap that reflects the needs of the research and policy communities and informs our budgeting process in FY 2014 and perhaps for many years to come.
You can reach the HUD Research Roadmap team or leave comments at PD&RResearchRoadmap@hud.gov.