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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Columbia: Study on U.S. Department of HUD Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) Program Finds “The ‘Projects’ Are Nice Now”

Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health research examined the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program to understand residents’ perspective on the program. The study is among the first to examine the impact of RAD which aims to improve and preserve affordable housing by converting traditional public housing to rental assistance. The results from one of the first U.S. sites to successfully undergo the RAD conversion indicate notable, and mostly positive, results.

RAD is the latest HUD-sponsored initiative to preserve public housing while addressing deferred maintenance and its effects.

“Our research is especially relevant as housing authorities across the U. S. proceed to implement RAD,” said Dr. Diana Hernandez, sociomedical sciences assistant professor and first author.

In-depth interviews were conducted with 30 residents at three sites in Central CA. Findings include four main outcomes as per residents:  upgraded heating/cooling systems and appliances; improved unit layout; perceived safety and connectedness; and enhanced resident resources and pride of place.

“Our study is unique in examining impacts of a federal program that incorporates major renovations and returns residents to their original residences after a temporary relocation,” said Dr. Hernandez.

Residents reported being pleased with aesthetic upgrades, increased feelings of pride, improved thermal comfort, and tenant relations after the renovations. However, safety concerns and pest infestations were not completely resolved.

“The results provide clear recommendations that could be adopted at future sites including resident education and ongoing evaluations of the conversion process,” noted Dr. Hernandez.

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