Center of Excellence for Housing & Community Development Policy Research

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Centers of Excellence (COE) conduct research on housing and community development, focusing on home ownership, affordable housing, and issues affecting underserved communities. In 2021, HUD launched the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Centers of Excellence with Cooperative Assistance Awards to support research on key topics for underserved communities. Texas Southern University was among the first HBCUs to receive funding and the first to do so for two consecutive years, establishing the Center of Excellence for Housing and Community Development Policy Research (HCDPR).

Research Projects

The overarching question driving the need for HCDPR is how could public policy ensure housing and land (or property) development accrues equitably for all to participate and enjoy a good quality of life as city dwellers, in particular underserved African Americans households and low-income communities of color? To answer this question, investigators will carry out the following seven research projects that emphasize the relationship between housing policies and programs under two thematic and interconnected areas: 1)individual and community wealth building, and housing security and stability; and 2) planning and infrastructure inequity affecting underserved communities.

Housing Choice Vouchers and Mitigated Exposure to Housing Instability Open

Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs) mitigated housing instability and displacement due to rising rents and disasters such as Hurricane Harvey and the COVID-19 pandemic. Investigators will create longitudinal program participation histories for households who participated in the HCV Program between 2005 and 2021 in Texas’ major cities. Through longitudinal spatial data analysis, the investigators will also do modeling to determine how HCVs mitigated housing instability due to both housing cost and other related factors.

Research Theme: Individual and Community Wealth Building, and Housing Stability and Security

Lead Investigator: Andrew J. Greenlee, PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Improving Heir Property Homeowners’ Access to Homestead Exemptions and Other Property Tax Relief Programs Open

This research project explores the destabilizing impacts of heirs’ property ownership among homeowners by examining of how heirs’ properties are impacted by property tax foreclosure sales in Dallas and Tarrant Counties, Texas. Also, it examines the legal barriers heirs’ property homeowners face across the country in securing access to homestead exemptions and other important forms of property tax relief, fueling their housing insecurity and making them more vulnerable to property tax foreclosure.

Research Theme: Heirs’ property and housing instability: An examination of foreclosures among homeowners with heirs’ property in Dallas and Tarrant Counties and state legal barriers to property tax relief programs

Lead Investigator: Heather K. Way, JD, University of Texas at Austin

Mortgage Lending Practices and the State of Black Homeownership in Texas’ Cities Open

Black homeownership rates continue to lag white rates in most US cities. Some cities show lagging levels of mortgage lending 2017-2019 to Black owner-occupiers which will lead to an increased deficit in black homeownership in the future. This research project examines the levels of Black homeownership in the six largest cities in Texas. A dataset will be constructed looking at historic trends on Black homeownership by census tract in these cities.

Research Theme: Individual and Community Wealth Building, and Housing Stability and Security

Lead Investigator: Michael Frisch, PhD, University of Missouri, Kansas City

Noise Pollution: Communities of Color, Trains, and Quiet Zones Open

Communities of color in Texas’ major cities have disproportionally fewer quiet zones than predominately white communities. To determine the reasons why communities of color are underrepresented in train horn quiet zones and thus experience the harmful impacts of noise pollution on health and quality of life at a disproportionally high rate, investigators will undertake a mixed method multiple case study of the train horn quiet zones in low-income communities of color in Texas’ major cities. The multiple case study will include assessing the relationship between the racial composition of neighborhoods, household exposure to noise, and community success in creating a quiet zone.

Research Theme: Planning and Infrastructure Inequity Affecting Underserved Communities

Lead Investigator: Laura Solitare, PhD, Texas Southern University

Private Zoning in Houston, TX: Housing Opportunities for Historically Excluded Groups Open

Famous for its lack of zoning, Houston is unique in its ongoing use of privately created deed restrictions as the primary way to shape neighborhood character. While patterns of exclusion or access to some neighborhoods may initially be set by private landowners using deed restrictions to market their properties, the City’s enforcement role blurs the line between private and public responsibility for exclusionary development patterns. Investigators will study Racially Concentrated Areas of Affluence, develop interactive GIS story maps, and assess the relationship between publicly supported private deed restrictions and racial inequalities.

Research Theme: Planning and Infrastructure Inequity Affecting Underserved Communities

Lead Investigators: Elizabeth J. Mueller, PhD, University of Texas at Austin and Martina Cartwright, J.D., Texas Southern University

The Digital Divide in Underserved Communities Open

Co-relationships exist between broadband infrastructure adoption in low-income and minority communities, intracity inequities related to communications technology, and Black children's access to online learning within their homes and neighborhoods. Investigators will use the data collected to develop a Digital Divide Index (DDI). The DDI will measure the extent of the Digital Divide on secondary education in low-income African American communities/communities of color in major Texas cities.

Research Theme: Planning and Infrastructure Inequity Affecting Underserved Communities

Lead Investigator: Vera Hawkins, PhD, Texas Southern University

Wealth Building in Distressed African American Neighborhoods: The Role of Housing Programs, Property Valuation, and Non-Traditional Ownership Open

Lack of homeownership among households of color has been identified as a key factor impacting both the lack of wealth accumulation by households of color, as well as an explanatory factor for the national “wealth gap” of severe racial disparities between households of color and majority-race households. While there is a dominant track to homeownership through the conventional mortgage credit system, this research project examines the role in wealth accumulation of non-traditional locally mediated forms of housing and homeownership for households of color at the community (neighborhood) level, including household and collective ownership. The investigators will develop a database of, and map, locally mediated forms of household and wealth accumulation.

Research Theme: Individual and Community Wealth Building, and Housing Stability and Security

Lead Investigators: Jordan Yin, PhD, Alabama A&M University and Jeffrey S. Lowe, PhD, Texas Southern University


$45 Million to Combat Housing Crisis

On Monday, March 14th 2022, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge came to Texas Southern University to discuss the announcement of the $45 millions to combat the housing and homelessness crisis. Dr. Jeffrey Lowe and Dr. Laura Solitare, Director, and Associate Director, respectively, of the TSU Center of Excellence for Housing and Community Development Policy Research along with other profound TSU leaders cme to discuss with Secretary Fudge regarding the housing matter that needs attention immediately in the Houston area.

Innovative Policy Research Centers in HBCUs

Dr. Jeffrey Lowe and Dr. Laura Solitare, Director and Associate Director of the TSU Center of Excellence for Housing and Community Development Policy Research, presented at the 2022 National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Week Conference. Their session, "Advancing Research Excellence in Housing and Community Development to Promote Innovative Policymaking," highlighted HUD's 2021 support to establish HBCU Centers of Excellence, awarding $5.5 million to Howard University and Texas Southern University. Along with Howard University leaders, they presented plans for policy research and a toolkit for HBCUs addressing underserved populations' challenges.

Planned by the White House Initiative on HBCUs, the conference occurred September 20-23 in Washington, DC, fostering information exchange, innovations, and networking among educational and governmental stakeholders. This year's theme was "Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity.


Established in 2021, the Center of Excellence for Housing and Community Development Policy Research (HCDPR) is a first-generation HBCU Center of Excellence sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). As a free-standing policy research center at Texas Southern University, HCDPR seeks to accomplish the following four-fold mission:
  • Conduct academic and empirical research in housing and community development useful to HUD.
  • Promote discourse among public administrators, non-profit housing and community-based development organizations, scholars, students, and advocates.
  • Present data and analysis about underserved African American neighborhoods or communities of color in Texas, the Gulf Coast region, and the Caribbean.
  • Develop a research program that advances housing and community development policy research at TSU and prepare future scholars, policy analysts, and decision makers while they contribute to the work of the HCDPR in addressing racial inequities.

HCDPR fulfills this mission by supporting the innovative research projects of seasoned and emerging scholars within and outside of TSU(e.g., University of Florida, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and University of Southern California ) through transdisciplinary collaborations that investigate how public policy ensures housing and land development accrues equitably and that stimulates policy debate. In partnership with three other HBCUs (Alabama A&M University, Florida A&M University, and University of the Virgin Islands) and the University of Texas at Austin, HCDPR faculty conduct research with assistance from graduate and undergraduate students and, thereby, extends the pipeline for conveying future housing and community development researchers and scholars of color.

Our Research Partners and Collaborators

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

University of Illinois

University of Texas at Austin

University of Missouri, Kansas City

Alabama A&M University

Contact Us

If you would like additional information about HCDPR, please contact us at

Texas Southern University
Center of Excellence for Housing and Community Development Policy Research
PAB 409A
3100 Cleburne Street
Houston, Texas 77004