The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation recently announced the names and intended research programs of 13 institutions that will receive funding totaling nearly $6 million as part of the foundation's "How Housing Matters to Families and Communities" housing research competitive grant program. The grants will be used to form a base of knowledge and evidence about how housing affects the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral development of children, and how housing choices shape adults' economic, physical, and emotional well-being.

According to the foundation, the five-year, $25-million research program is designed "to explore the notion that affordable housing may be an essential platform that promotes a wide array of positive human outcomes in education, employment, and physical and mental health ..." and aims to provide policy makers with the tools to make empirically informed decisions about affordable housing investments, rather than relying on anecdotal and unsubstantiated claims. The ultimate goal is to encourage healthier, better educated, and more successful families and communities.

The 13 recipients of the first grants in the program are:

  • Columbia University ($427,000)—The Department of Economics will research the effects of environmental policy on infants in poor and minority neighborhoods.
  • Cornell University ($360,000)—The College of Human Ecology will research the intersection between mental health and housing among young children.
  • Johns Hopkins University ($300,000)—The Institute for Policy Studies will research the relationship between housing affordability and parental investment in children.
  • Ohio State University ($646,000)—The Research Foundation will explore the effects that housing has on the well-being of children.
  • Princeton University ($10,000)—Funding will support an ethnographic dissertation on the social organization of suburban poverty.
  • RAND Corporation ($300,000)—Funding will support research into inclusionary zoning.
  • St. Michael's Hospital ($738,000)—The Centre for Research on Inner City Health will research the effects of mixed-income housing redevelopment on mental health and child development.
  • University of Illinois at Chicago ($390,000)—The Jane Addams College of Social Work will assess adolescents' emotional well-being following foreclosure.
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ($226,000)—The School of Social Work will research the effects housing assistance and instability have on childrens' health.
  • University of Michigan ($750,000)—The National Poverty Center will research the effects of the foreclosure and economic crisis on vulnerable workers and families.
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison ($194,000)—The Institute for Research on Poverty will conduct a benefit-cost analysis of rental subsidies and economic dependence among low-income families.
  • Urban Institute ($750,000)—The institution will research the role of housing in child welfare outcomes.
  • Yeshiva University ($750,000)—The Albert Einstein College of Medicine will research the intersection between subsidized housing and health outcomes for adults.

The MacArthur Foundation is currently seeking proposals for a second round of grants by the "How Housing Matters to Families and Communities" program. Initial proposals are due March 22. Complete information about the 2010 grant competition is available at