Econometrica’s Legacy of Research for HUD

Econometrica’s Legacy of Research for HUD

Econometrica, Inc., has been providing support to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) since 2002. Almost since that beginning, we have produced many research publications, alone or in collaboration with other notable firms such as Abt Associates, Urban Institute, and ICF International. Our areas of research vary but often include program evaluation, in-depth analysis of American Housing Survey (AHS) data, and studies providing insights into implications of policy, programs, or regulations. Our work is most often produced for HUD’s Office of Policy Development & Research (PD&R).

Two of the leading authors of our research related to AHS are Dr. Frederick Eggers and Dr. Fouad Moumen. AHS is sponsored by HUD and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The survey is the most comprehensive national housing survey in the United States. They are renowned experts in this dataset and have been supporting work related to it for nearly their entire careers. Some of their works include:

In addition to their publications listed at PD&R, additional items may be found at https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/ahs.html. You can read more about Econometrica’s legacy of AHS work in this blog post.

Some of the other notable Econometrica-supported research includes:

All publications available online and produced for PD&R can be accessed at these links: https://www.huduser.gov/portal/taxonomy/term/2811 and https://www.huduser.gov/portal/taxonomy/term/3437.

We are proud of the important work we do and hope that our contributions to this research can improve design, increase knowledge, advance understanding, and inspire further investigation!

About Econometrica:
Founded in 1998, Econometrica is a research and management organization in Bethesda, MD, established to provide public- and private-sector clients with customized program support services. Econometrica works with multiple agencies to provide high-quality, cost-effective analyses, modeling, and economic evaluations. The company consistently receives exceptional scores from its clients and believes in three principles: technical capabilities, happy customers and business development.

HUD contracted Econometrica to provide these support services, including direct TA and group learning (training) across the HUD portfolio of housing agencies, which includes more than 3,500 PHAs. HUD Field Offices, a group of PHAs with similar needs, or an individual PHA could request TA from the project’s Government Technical Monitor.

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Econometrica’s Inaugural Technical Assistance Cooperative Agreement Awarded in 2011

Econometrica’s Inaugural Technical Assistance Cooperative Agreement Awarded in 2011

Many cities, counties, and states have excelled at using funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to create innovative, place-based revitalization strategies. However, the economic downturn, collapse of the housing market, and accompanying foreclosure crisis intensified the challenges grantees faced. As a result, HUD shifted the way it provided technical assistance (TA) and capacity building to grantees and subgrantees. The OneCPD Integrated Practitioner Assistance System (OneCPD) provided comprehensive, needs-based, and cross-program TA to maximize the impact of HUD funds. HUD’s FY 2010 Technical Assistance and Capacity Building under the Transformation Initiative Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA), commonly referred to as OneCPD, was HUD’s first attempt to integrate its multiple TA awards within the Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) under a single program. This NOFA was released in 2011, during HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan’s tenure.

To meet the challenge of OneCPD’s new approach to the way HUD provided TA and capacity building, Econometrica joined forces with a team of more than 60 cross-disciplinary community development practitioners and firms from across the country. A successful response to the NOFA resulted in a $500,000 award, executed by then Technical Assistance Director Julie Hopkins (nee Hovden). Under this funding, the Econometrica Team conducted needs assessments of grantees to determine the nature and scope of TA and capacity building needed; provided direct TA based on results of the needs assessments; and developed tools and products to assist CPD grantees in understanding relevant CPD and federal requirements. Areas of focus included programs such as Section 108, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), and HOME funding. Under OneCPD, the team provided needs assessments and TA to grantees (municipalities) in California, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Mississippi, as well as the State of North Carolina. The team also designed materials and implemented a process to provide grantees an opportunity to comment on CDBG TA needs and program effectiveness. To engage grantees and other stakeholders in this conversation, Econometrica launched “Moving CDBG Forward,” during which it conducted 9 in-person information and listening sessions and 10 interactive webinars in less than 6 months’ time. Econometrica also monitored an electronic forum and prepared a thorough report, including findings and recommendations.

Following this initial award, Econometrica has continued to receive an increased level of funding for every subsequent year during which HUD issued a similar TA NOFA. The focus of these NOFAs has transitioned from just CPD programs to also include the Office of Native American Programs, Office of Public and Indian Housing, and other divisions within HUD. Areas of focus now commonly include Choice Neighborhoods, physical needs assessments, and more. Commensurate with this expansion, the NOFA itself transitioned in terminology from OneCPD to OneCPD Plus to the current titling, Community Compass. In 2017, Econometrica closed out its inaugural award from 2011, but continues to provide services under the newer awards, which remain active. The most recent award was made in late 2017 and is featured in this blog post.

Econometrica’s partnerships have also evolved over time, expanding to keep pace with changing and expanded needs of HUD grantees as well as to capture new and emerging practice areas and increase geographic reach. We are proud of the teams we have assembled and our legacy of providing high-quality, effective, and efficient TA to HUD consumers. We look forward to many more years of doing so.

NOTE: HUD grantees interested in receiving TA, including units of local government, tribes/tribally designated housing entities, public housing agencies, and others, can review the instructions found here: https://www.hudexchange.info/program-support/technical-assistance/.

About Econometrica:
Founded in 1998, Econometrica is a research and management organization in Bethesda, MD, established to provide public- and private-sector clients with customized program support services. Econometrica works with multiple agencies to provide high-quality, cost-effective analyses, modeling, and economic evaluations. The company consistently receives exceptional scores from its clients and believes in three principles: technical capabilities, happy customers and business development.

Under this funding, the Econometrica Team conducted needs assessments of grantees to determine the nature and scope of TA and capacity building needed; provided direct TA based on results of the needs assessments; and developed tools and products to assist CPD grantees in understanding relevant CPD and federal requirements.

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Our First Disaster Services Contract Awarded in 2005

Our First Disaster Services Contract Awarded in 2005

In 2005, Econometrica was awarded its first disaster assistance–related contract. Econometrica provided the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Public and Indian Housing with support services related to the implementation of the Katrina Disaster Housing Assistance Program and the follow-on Disaster Voucher Program, two programs that addressed the urgent housing needs of flood victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Econometrica provided data analysis, process development and documentation, funds control and quality assurance, and operational support to assist HUD in its implementation and management of the program. Econometrica’s specific responsibilities included database development, eligibility verification, social marketing, community outreach, and quality control efforts.

Econometrica was also responsible for identifying and informing HUD of housing vacancies to accommodate the displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina. We worked with public housing authorities, landlords, realty organizations, and others to obtain current housing vacancy data, and we created a website to provide this information quickly to Federal and local public housing personnel serving displaced households across the country. We also advised HUD about the reliability and usefulness of the vacancy data generally and made recommendations, as appropriate.

Econometrica has since gone on to provide other disaster-related services, including providing onsite subject matter expertise in a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Joint Field Office to inform State, regional, and local economic recovery planning following extensive flooding and landslides in Colorado in September 2013. But our first encounter with the post-disaster landscape—and especially the human connections we forged—will forever serve as a reminder of the impact we can have when we connect our professional abilities with the real-world needs and time-sensitive demands that disasters create.

Note: Through February 28, 2018, Econometrica’s fundraising page to support the Central Texas Food Bank, including those affected by Hurricane Harvey, continues to accept donations. Recent reports indicate that there is still great need.

Econometrica was also responsible for identifying and informing HUD of housing vacancies to accommodate the displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina.

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Our Inaugural Housing and Community Development Contract Awarded in 2002

Our Inaugural Housing and Community Development Contract Awarded in 2002

In 2002, Econometrica was awarded its first-ever contract from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The contract originated in the Office of Policy Development and Research, and the work was an evaluation of the HUD Mark-To-Market (M2M) program—a program designed to address the rapidly increasing costs in the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured stock that is supported by Section 8 (also known as project-based) assistance. In many cases, these Section 8 contracts provide for rents above local market levels. The M2M program brings rents down to market levels while simultaneously preserving low-income housing affordability by allowing HUD to reduce the Section 8 rents to market levels and reduce the FHA mortgage on the property, if necessary, to a level that lower rents can support. The program’s goals are thus to preserve low-income rental housing affordability while reducing the long-term costs of federal rental assistance and minimizing the adverse effect on the FHA insurance funds. The program also aims to establish a network of locally based entities to administer the program.

The objective of Econometrica’s study was to evaluate the implementation of the M2M program to date in terms of cost effectiveness and participant and resident satisfaction.

Our study included three primary analysis activities: (1) a Process Analysis of the administrative mechanisms implementing the M2M program; (2) a Retrospective Statistical Analysis of trends in participation levels, estimates of savings to the government resulting from the program, measures of program efficiency, and preliminary indications of program outcomes; and (3) a Prospective Analysis case study to document the restructuring process for 15 properties undergoing restructuring in 2003.

Econometrica successfully met its commitments under this contract, and HUD accepted our final report for publication. This inaugural HUD contract has led to many more contracts in the ensuing years; we currently count more than 60 contracts and cooperative agreements awarded by HUD and several others related to HUD programs and regulations awarded by state and local governments. Incidentally, the HUD official who oversaw this pivotal project, Dr. Jennifer Stoloff, is also now a full-time Econometrica employee!

The evaluation report is available online at https://www.huduser.gov/portal//Publications/pdf/M2MEva.pdf. You may also learn more about the M2M program at https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/housing/mfh/presrv/presmfh/aboutm2m.

The objective of Econometrica’s study was to evaluate the implementation of the M2M program to date in terms of cost effectiveness and participant and resident satisfaction.

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Largest Geographic Span of Site Visits for the Housing and Community Development Group

Largest Geographic Span of Site Visits for the Housing and Community Development Group

Over an 18-month period during 2009–2010, Econometrica’s Housing and Community Development group provided technical assistance (TA) services on site at more than 70 cities located in 32 states and 3 U.S. territories. This TA was provided in support of a then-new requirement that mandated public housing authorities (PHAs) of a certain size implement a new form of accounting and budgeting known as project-based accounting. PHAs and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also referred to this as “asset management.”

HUD contracted Econometrica to provide these support services, including direct TA and group learning (training) across the HUD portfolio of housing agencies, which includes more than 3,500 PHAs. HUD Field Offices, a group of PHAs with similar needs, or an individual PHA could request TA from the project’s Government Technical Monitor.

Econometrica received a total of 81 Statements of Need (HUD-approved requests) during the 18-month period of performance, resulting in 60 onsite TA visits, 1 instance of remote direct TA, 8 TA workshops, 4 TA workshops combined with direct onsite TA visits, and 8 eventual cancellations of requests. More than 675 people attended the training workshops.

The scope of assistance provided ranged from 40 hours of assistance in several places—including Salina, KS; Calexico, CA; and Allegheny County, PA—and 520 hours of assistance in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Most assignments averaged 80 to 160 hours of assistance. The size of PHAs served by the TA efforts also ranged from small portfolios, such as 98 units of low-rent public housing in the Monticello Housing Authority (NY), to much larger stock, such as 2,800 units of low-rent public housing in the Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority portfolio.

Econometrica completed these requests by relying on 22 subject matter experts among its own staff members as well as 2 subcontractor firms and 11 independent consultants. Econometrica’s Project Manager, Doray Sitko, remotely managed these personnel, who were located in geographically disparate locations across the United States. Then-Director Charles Hanson supervised her.

This was and remains to date the largest geographic span of any Housing and Community Development project in which Econometrica has ever held the prime contractor role. During the 18 months of the project, Econometrica not only coordinated the logistics of all site visits but also prepared curricula, developed a TA plan and report for every assignment, and otherwise successfully managed this nearly $3 million project. We are very proud of the assistance the Econometrica Team was able to provide and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of field work in so many locales.

HUD contracted Econometrica to provide these support services, including direct TA and group learning (training) across the HUD portfolio of housing agencies, which includes more than 3,500 PHAs. HUD Field Offices, a group of PHAs with similar needs, or an individual PHA could request TA from the project’s Government Technical Monitor.

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