Monday, August 4, 2014

Making the connection between research and practice

Developing solutions through research
by Lisa Sturtevant, Ph.D., National Housing Conference

As NHC’s research division, the Center for Housing Policy increases awareness of housing needs and identifies promising solutions to housing challenges through timely and accessible research. Being able to connect research to practice to support local housing policy development is one thing that differentiates the Center’s work from others’. When we analyze data, synthesize research findings, evaluate best practices or describe housing innovations, we try to keep our audience in mind, whether it be local advocates, housing finance agencies, or local housing planners, and develop materials that will be most useful to them.

We recently completed a large project that highlights our commitment to conducting rigorous research that has concrete applications and can be accessed by practitioners in a variety of ways. In partnership with the National Community Land Trust Network and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the Center just completed a six-month project assessing the prospects for inclusionary housing programs to ensure lasting affordability. Inclusionary housing policies are local land use policies that link approvals for market-rate housing to the creation of affordable homes for low- and moderate-income households. The ability to not only produce affordable homes, but also to ensure their long-term affordability, is critical for meeting the housing needs of the families and individuals that inclusionary housing programs aim to serve. Even as inclusionary housing programs have become more prevalent, there has been a lack of information on successful strategies for facilitating lasting affordability, and this work has filled an important gap.

The new research and best practices that resulted from this project are published as a working paper by the Lincoln Institute. The report includes case studies of 20 programs that have taken different strategies for developing and maintaining their inclusionary housing units and is a great resource for housing planners and advocates.

But we wanted to make sure that our work reached those who may not have the time or inclination to read the entire 100+ page report and who may want more than the executive summary. With the CLT Network, we held an interactive webinar where we discussed the research and the results, and responded to questions from viewers. We’ve developed a national database of more than 500 inclusionary housing programs (available soon!) that can be used to identify local programs. And we just completed a two-page resource guide (also available soon!) designed to help those who are new to inclusionary housing find out more.

We’re always looking for new ways to share research and best practices with the housing community. We’d love to hear suggestions for how you would like to hear about our research. What formats are most helpful when you are doing your work? Do you prefer short research briefs? Webinars? Online, interactive tools? If you have ideas, I would love to hear about them and hope you’ll send me an email ( With input from our members and others in the housing community, we are better able to continue making the connection between research and practice.    

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