NAU part of $3M HUD project to explore housing challenges in Arizona

A small house with trees held in two outstretched palms.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded one of its first HSI Center of Excellence grants to create the Arizona Research Center for Housing Equity and Sustainability (ARCHES). The new center will address the interconnected issues of housing security, climate and health. ARCHES will be co-located at Arizona State University Morrison Institute for Public Policy and the University of Arizona Drachman Institute with support from 19 key personnel at ASU, UA, Northern Arizona University and University of New Mexico.

The center’s research on housing security will inform equitable housing growth and production to support Hispanic and underserved households. Research topics in this area include factors affecting housing security in Hispanic communities, access to homeownership and evaluating shared equity homeownership, affordability mandates, home-based businesses and public education campaigns to mitigate housing insecurity.

On climate, ARCHES researchers will identify housing innovations for resilience in the arid Southwest. Projects will investigate how building codes and housing finance regulations affect the quality and climate resilience of housing stock and will provide recommendations and solutions to improve housing conditions, increase climate resilience, and expand housing access for Hispanic and other underserved communities.

Finally, ARCHES researchers will study the linkages between housing and health, including how to create healthy homes and support aging communities. In this area, ARCHES scholars will uncover connections between housing quality and health outcomes, with attention to demographic and ecological contexts.

How is NAU involved?

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI), housed in The W. A. Franke College of Business, is part of the grant. Researchers at EPI will assess the housing needs of Native Americans working off their home reservations in the reservation border towns in northern Arizona. Their research will use surveys, interviews, descriptive statistics, advanced econometric analysis and thematic analysis to inform indigenous housing programs.

EPI is a data-driven research and outreach center supporting economic development and has a long history and abundant experience in tribal outreach. EPI’s Center for American Indian Economic Development (CAIED) and Research Division work collaboratively with tribal communities to provide technical assistance and training and conduct applied research to promote tribal economic development.

Nancy Baca, director of the Economic Policy Institute and associate teaching professor of economics at The W. A. Franke College of Business, has been overseeing the research activities with regard to tribal and rural economic development. Feifei Zhang is a research associate at the EPI. She has extensive experience consulting with public and private clients in areas including housing development, community development, regional development strategies, and sustainability policy. Both Baca and Zhang will serve as co-PIs at NAU. Kathleen Frank, program manager of CAIED, will be part of the team and provide substantial support to ensure the success of the project.

In this new center, EPI will work closely with community organizations and underserved communities, to expand housing affordability and accessibility in the region.

NAU Communications