For completed Housing & Community Development projects click here.

Teams of researchers at the Center for Urban & Regional Studies have been working closely with the Charlotte Housing Authority to evaluate two of its innovative initiatives. Read more about this research.

Jobs Plus Evaluation

William RohePI. In 1998, HUD and Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) launched the Jobs Plus Public Housing Revitalization Initiative (Jobs Plus) to raise and sustain the level of employment and earnings among residents of public housing developments. Implemented properly, and sustained, Jobs-Plus boosted annual earnings by 16%, or $1300 per year, an effect that endured for 7 years without abating. HUD’s Jobs Plus Pilot Initiative is a significant effort to replicate the model and its impacts, and the team led by MDRC in partnership with the Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS) at the University of North Carolina and the National Institute for Mixed-Income Communities (NIMC) at Case-Western Reserve bring together deep expertise with Jobs Plus, with rigorous employment and self-sufficiency evaluations for public housing residents, and deep knowledge of contemporary public housing policy. The partnership will document the start-up of the Jobs Plus Pilot Program, its early outcomes, and its costs through a comprehensive process study. It will also lay the groundwork for a rigorous design that asks not only whether the replication meets or exceeds initial impacts, but also the relative contributions of the mechanisms (in terms of rent incentives, Community Support for Work and employment services) that produce these impacts. This information will help guide future Jobs Plus replication, and inform workforce and self-sufficiency initiatives throughout HUD’s portfolio.

Developing a How-To Guide for PHAs Interested in Applying for the Moving to Work Program

William RohePI. The purpose of this research project is to design a guide for practitioners that both assists Public Housing Agencies considering applying for the expanded demonstration and that presents a suggested planning process for developing a strong initial Moving To Work (MTW) plan. The guide will distill experiences of, and advice from, the 39 agencies currently participating in MTW. A preliminary list of topics to be covered includes:
• pros and cons of becoming a MTW agency;
• gaining resident and community stakeholders’ support;
• role of the board of directors;
• designing effective activities;
• understanding local context (economy, demographics, and activist community);
• developing data systems;
• planning for an evaluation; and
• shifting agency culture.

Evaluation of the Charlotte Housing Authority’s Boulevard Homes HOPE VI Project

William RohePI. This project proposes to evaluate the HOPE VI redevelopment of Boulevard Homes in Charlotte for the Charlotte Housing Authority (CHA) and will assess the impact of the redevelopment based on six indicators: 1) Impact on the lives of the current residents of Boulevard Homes; 2) Nature and extent of economic development generated in the community; 3) Effect of the redevelopment on the surrounding community; 3) Success at integrating the physical redevelopment and the Community Supportive Services (CSS) components of the HOPE VI strategy; 5) Impacts on the HOPE VI neighborhood; and 6) Impacts on the HOPE VI development. In addition to the quantitative and qualitative assessment of the impacts of the HOPE VI redevelopment, the research team will assess the implementation of the redevelopment and CSS components and will work with CHA staff and case managers to develop and implement a data collection and management system to ensure that necessary data are collected to establish baseline measures. These measures will be updated over the life of the project. Read the interim report.

Measuring the Impact of the Charlotte Housing Authority’s Moving to Work Program

William RohePI. The Center for Urban & Regional Studies will evaluate the Charlotte Housing Authority’s (CHA) Moving to Work Program. This program allows participating housing authorities discretion in the allocation of resources to achieve any one of the three statutory objectives of the program. The Center will examine the implementation, outputs, and impacts that the Moving to Work Program will have on the residents, the Authority, and the community. See page 8 of the Winter 2012 CURS Update for a summary of the projects interim report to the Charlotte Housing Authority. For more information contact Bill Rohe at

A Multistate Study of Housing and Employment Impacts of Foreclosure Prevention Programs

Roberto Quercia–PI. The Ohio State Housing Finance Agency, in partnership with Ohio State University, with funding from the MacArthur Foundation, will study the relationship between foreclosure prevention programs and employment. The UNC Center for Community Capital, as subcontractor, will participate in certain functions related to research and analysis for this project. The specific aims of this project are: 1) to examine the impact of mortgage payment assistance provided to unemployed homeowners on long-term mortgage default; and 2) explore the spillover effects of housing stability on employment stability. Participants from the UNC Center for Community Capital will be fully involved in the empirical analysis for the first research question. They will serve in an advisory role for the analysis of the employment related questions and co-author manuscripts and policy briefs.

Community Advantage Panel: A Longitudinal Study of Low- and Moderate-Income

Roberto Quercia—PI. This research, funded by the Ford Foundation, will allow the continuance of data collection from earlier Panel studies, and to undertake important analyses of the data. Cumulatively, the research will result in an extensive and unique collection of data, including: 1)  loan origination data for an estimated 50,000 affordable housing mortgages purchased by the Self-Help Credit Union since 1998; 2) seven or more years of in-depth survey data from an original sample of 3,743 homeowners; and 3) six or more years of in-depth survey data from an original sample of 1,531 renters who both serve as a comparison group and an opportunity to observe the transition from renting to owning a home. The survey data include demographic and household characteristics and information on the following topics: home purchase experiences; social capital and networks; parenting, wealth and assets; new mortgage products; financial literacy and savings attitudes; energy costs and medical costs; credit score knowledge; housing experiences; and economic challenges. The requested funding will allow us to collect additional waves of data for both panels during the current economic downturn and assess how our sample of low-to-moderate income respondents is dealing with the financial crisis. The funding will also allow us to prepare a series of program and policy reports to document the findings from the research. Contact Roberto Quercia at for more information on the CAP studies.

Read a recent report based on the Community Advantage Panel research on the Center for Community Capital website.

Pre-purchase Homeownership Counseling Demonstration and Impact Evaluation

Roberto QuerciaPI. The study seeks to establish an understanding of the impact of pre-purchase homeownership counseling on a range of outcomes for low- and moderate-income home buyers.

An Assessment of Latino Housing Needs in North Carolina

Mark McDaniel–PI. The project will formulate a research design and agenda that will effectively frame a better understanding of the housing needs of Latinos in North Carolina, using a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies to address these issues. To accomplish this, the research team will: actively engage state and local stakeholders and constituencies early in the research process to inform and shape a research agenda that is framed appropriately and is responsive to Latino constituencies; build an empirical picture of housing needs and conditions for North Carolina’s Latino community using Census, American Community Survey and other current data sources; translate complicated quantitative data sets into accessible materials; and utilize a diverse and bilingual staff to develop culturally appropriate qualitative research instruments and facilitate a set of focus groups that will add another rich layer of analysis to the previous phases of work.

Research Advisory Services on Small Dollar Credit Programs

Janneke Ratcliffe and Lucy Gorham–Co-PIs. The Center for Community Capital (CCC) will advise the CFSI in developing a research agenda for a new Small Dollar Credit (SDC) demonstration program, featuring approximately six financial institutions’ innovative SDC programs.

Housing Costs and Commuting Distance

Roberto Quercia–PI. Traditional urban economic theory holds that land values decline from a central business district in direct proportion to the cost of commuting. In reality, we know that urban spatial structures are rarely so monocentric, but instead involve multiple centers of employment with widespread patterns of cross-commuting and reverse commuting. Nevertheless, the general tradeoff between housing costs and commuting costs should still hold, otherwise households would be better off by moving closer to their jobs.
This research will use information from the American Community Survey and a relatively new employment database compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau that includes detailed geographic information on the location of workers residences and workplaces. The difference in housing costs will then be compared to the estimated commuting distance using multiple regression analysis. Separate models will be run using different components of housing cost, different household types, and different metropolitan areas to explore different patterns in behavior. Research findings will help inform policy and practice. Real estate agents will be able to better serve households looking for the right home that balances commutes and housing costs. The research results will also help inform policies ranging from the ability-to-repay rule for home mortgages, affordable housing subsidies, and local housing regulations.