Two and a half years ago, we published the first issue of Evidence Matters on the topic of neighborhood revitalization, featuring a discussion of the Choice Neighborhoods program. Our goal was to shed light on how research on housing and community development issues has informed policymaking at federal, state, and local levels. Six issues later, we have covered topics ranging from the next generation of rental housing policy to low-income homeownership at a pivot point, explored what sustainability means and how to measure it, examined why some cities and regions are more resilient than others, and shared how HUD is using real-time data to improve its strategies to address homelessness.
Evidence Matters emerged in the midst of a growing call for evidence-based policymaking from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, and nonprofits like the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy. These organizations often cite random controlled trials (RCTs) as the best (and sometimes the only) research upon which policy should be made or programs scaled up. The Office of Policy Development and Research has supported, and will continue to support, RCTs to inform policymaking; however, the mission of this publication is to share how we and others have wrestled with research findings using a variety of methodologies that may challenge existing or proposed policies. Evidence-based policymaking is also about the process of confronting the evidence and applying it to improve the quality of programs and the implementation of policies.
All the more reason why we are focusing this issue of Evidence Matters on what a mixed-methods approach contributes to our understanding of mixed-income communities. Mixed-methods research combines insights from qualitative, ethnographic research with more quantitative research. As the articles in this issue demonstrate, by combining findings on quantifiable outcomes such as employment, health, and safety with nuanced research on the development of community norms, resident interactions, and property management, we can reach a more comprehensive understanding that leads to better policy.
As a result of such research, current programs, particularly Choice Neighborhoods, expand the emphasis on meaningful resident engagement, linking with the entire range of a community’s assets, and more comprehensive neighborhood revitalization. In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama committed to expanding Choice Neighborhoods as well as similar initiatives around the government in the form of Promise Zones, which target high-poverty neighborhoods with investments to transform them into places of opportunity that can attract private investment, improve education, and create jobs.
This is the last issue of Evidence Matters for which I will provide editorial direction. My tenure at HUD and in the Obama administration is complete, and I leave this publication in the excellent hands of a fabulous career team led by Todd Richardson, Rachelle Levitt, and Keith Fudge. I know that you will enjoy this issue and the issues to come. It has been a privilege to serve in this role. Thank you for your enthusiastic support of our work.
— Erika C. Poethig, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Development
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