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LBJ School Professor Peter Ward Awarded $100,000 Ford Foundation Grant for Sustainable Housing Research

AUSTIN, Texas, October 11, 2010—LBJ School Professor Peter Ward, C.B. Smith Sr. Centennial Chair in U.S.-Mexico Relations and Adviser to the LBJ School Ph.D. program, has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation. The grant will fund research on sustainable housing policy and policy development for self-help in the Texas colonias and other similar areas.

The project will build upon data from 2000 and will offer a longitudinal perspective from two cross-sectional databases for 2000-2010.

"This work grows out of my students’ very successful Spring 2010 semester class discussions and final report about sustainable housing application opportunities in low and very-low income settlements in Texas colonias,” said Ward.   “Making sustainable housing practices a feature of all housing and urban rehab efforts, and not just those that affect middle-class America, is essential and forms an important part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The work that we are now doing for the Ford Foundation will directly inform emerging policy recommendations both nationally, as well as in self-help housing areas in Latin America and beyond.”

 Assisting Dr. Ward with the research will be graduate students from the LBJ School of Public Affairs and other programs. Research will contribute to the development of housing and land market policy for low-income colonias in the Lower Valley counties as well as similar subdivisions in peri-urban areas of major cities like Austin, Dallas and San Antonio.

The first portion of the project will be a densification re-study to provide data on how many formerly vacant lots were taken up since the original study in 1999. Ward’s prior research in 2001-2002 evaluated the impact of a program to provide clean property titles to residents. The new study will provide a ten-year snapshot to help understand what improvements have been made since 2002 and how those improvements were financed. It will also seek information regarding housing market performance in light of the 2008-2009 housing and financial crisis and to explore the potential for helping homeowners to incorporate sustainable, green technologies within self-help housing processes.

The final portion of the project will be to develop simple cost-benefit models that can be applied by communities and the households themselves in order to gauge the utility and benefits of green and other self-build housing improvement investments in their homes.

Ward and his students will conduct their study between September 2010 and August 2011.

For more information and data on previous studies done by Ward and his students, please visit http://www.lahn.utexas.org