Request for housing research proposals

MacArthur issued a request for housing research proposals as part of its How Housing Matters to Families and Communities program, a five-year, $25-million research initiative to deepen the literature on the effect that investments in housing have on social and economic outcomes, beyond shelter. In the 2012-2013 phase of this initiative, the Foundation seeks to expand the body of empirical evidence on the difference that living in decent, stable, and affordable housing makes in the lives of children, families, and communities.  Research abstracts are due by Friday, January 11, 2013. 

This year’s competition will proceed in two stages. In the first stage, submissions of a research abstract are due no later than Friday, January 11, 2013. By Tuesday, March 19, 2013, a number of abstracts will be selected for which full proposals will be invited. Full proposals will be due by Monday, April 29, 2013. These proposals will undergo an external review process with final funding decisions made in September 2013. Applicants are encouraged to visit and view the project descriptions of past grant recipients for examples of the types of projects we have funded over the last four years.

In the 2012-2013 competition, the MacArthur Foundation seeks to expand the body of empirical evidence on the difference that living in decent, stable, and affordable housing makes in the lives of children, families, and communities. The Foundation places special emphasis on how such evidence can be put to use by decision-makers to strengthen policies and programs.

While proposals on all topics are welcome, the Foundation is especially interested in studies that address the ways in which housing impacts the economy, as well as individual, community and regional economic success.  Below are some illustrative examples of research topics that the Foundation would consider acceptable under this area of focus: the role of housing in promoting economic mobility; the neighborhood-level economic effects of programs enacted to address the foreclosure crisis (e.g., REO to Rental, HARP, HAMP); an evaluation of pilot programs that integrate housing supports (e.g., rent subsidies, housing counseling) with a workforce support structure (e.g., unemployment insurance, One Stops); the effect of the housing downturn on the fiscal challenges faced by state and local governments; and the effect of energy efficient or environmentally friendly designs on household finances.

The Foundation anticipates receiving proposals that use a range of methodologies and approaches, quantitative and/or qualitative. Projects may use original or existing datasets, or link administrative datasets. The analysis should reveal new insights about the economic impacts of housing. Rigorous program evaluations are also welcome.  

Importantly, the Foundation seeks to inform and strengthen the policy case for greater attention to housing and for housing reforms that will make stable, quality, affordable housing more widely available and integrated into policy-making.

As in previous years – and in order to maximize the impact that funded research will have on policy – the Foundation requires that every applicant clearly identify the specific policy audience that will be able to utilize the research to improve or enhance a specific policy intervention and improve outcomes being studied. As such, the Foundation requires that research abstracts identify a specific policy audience (e.g., state agency, city official or commission, legislative committees, federal program administrators) and, most important, address the means by which the results of the proposed research will be made available and useful to the target policy audience.

The abstract should also explain how the research will be timely and relevant to ongoing policy conversations and questions – at any level of government – that may or may not be housing specific. While the most direct way to accomplish this is through a formal partnership between the researchers and a public agency, the Foundation recognizes that other approaches exist.

Unlike past calls for proposals, the Foundation this year asks that every applicant consider and identify the practical implications for their research. For research to inform how housing and other services are delivered, researchers must be attentive to how research findings might impact housing development, program design, and other interventions. Researchers might consider partnering with practitioners, in the public, nonprofit, and for-profit sectors, who can help inform their research questions and design.

Special Note: Research must be non-partisan study or analysis. The Foundation cannot support lobbying activities as that term is used in section 4945 of the Internal Revenue Code and it is expected that the research proposed should qualify as non-partisan analysis, study, and research. The research should be an independent and objective exposition of the subject matter with a thorough analysis of the respective merits of all sides of the issue.

US and non-US citizens affiliated with a non-profit entity are eligible to apply.

For more information and submission details, please visit