2
Overview of HUD Objectives

Carlos Martin

Department of Housing and Urban Development


PATH is the only federal government program specifically focused on the housing innovation pipeline. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is continuously looking for ways to improve this program. In 2000, HUD sponsored the National Research Council (NRC) assessment of PATH. That study of the NRC Committee for Review and Assessment of the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing resulted in the report Promoting Innovation: 2002 Assessment of the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing.1 At that time, the early development of PATH presented many difficulties.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has made major changes in the structure of PATH in response to the recommendations of Promoting Innovation. The most significant recommendation was that the program should focus more on the issues of barriers to the innovation process including studies to better understand those barriers.

Initially, about 15 percent of PATH’s budget was used to address barriers. At this time, addressing barriers constitutes about 80 percent of the PATH budget, including issues such as how consumers value innovative technologies, the training of the labor force to understand and use new technologies, liability concerns for builders and architects, research and development tax credits for manufacturers, and financial incentives for consumers. Identification of these issues came out of a variety of recent initiatives for overcoming barriers to innovation.

Another significant recommendation addressed by the NRC assessment was that PATH should also focus on the diffusion and adoption of innovation in housing and the behaviors and the practices within the market. PATH completed a groundbreaking study of innovation diffusion among homebuilders and has started to look at how they respond to specific technologies. PATH is also looking at consumers’ perceptions of housing technologies and manufacturers’ commercialization processes.

Since the beginning of the NRC’s assessment, the number of people accessing both PATHNET and the industry companion ToolBase has quintupled. Another change has been increased exploration of a variety of outreach media, such as print advertising and other marketing tools, with ongoing collaborations with publishers such as Reed, Handley, Wood, publishers of Fine Home Building, and McGraw-Hill Construction. PATH currently has ongoing communications with homebuilders through local National Association of Home Builders newsletters and is developing an outreach program with Home Depot.

The NRC’s assessment clearly stated that, in spite of some difficulties, PATH should be continued. The program received legislative support in 2005 with an appropriation of $5 million for FY2006—40 percent less than the program started out with—but it means that it can continue and, hopefully, grow. There has also been discussion of possibly moving PATH to another office within HUD.

1  

National Research Council, 2003, Promoting Innovation: 2002 Assessment of the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.



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Proceedings of a Workshop to Review PATH Strategy, Operating Plan, and Performance Measures 2 Overview of HUD Objectives Carlos Martin Department of Housing and Urban Development PATH is the only federal government program specifically focused on the housing innovation pipeline. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is continuously looking for ways to improve this program. In 2000, HUD sponsored the National Research Council (NRC) assessment of PATH. That study of the NRC Committee for Review and Assessment of the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing resulted in the report Promoting Innovation: 2002 Assessment of the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing.1 At that time, the early development of PATH presented many difficulties. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has made major changes in the structure of PATH in response to the recommendations of Promoting Innovation. The most significant recommendation was that the program should focus more on the issues of barriers to the innovation process including studies to better understand those barriers. Initially, about 15 percent of PATH’s budget was used to address barriers. At this time, addressing barriers constitutes about 80 percent of the PATH budget, including issues such as how consumers value innovative technologies, the training of the labor force to understand and use new technologies, liability concerns for builders and architects, research and development tax credits for manufacturers, and financial incentives for consumers. Identification of these issues came out of a variety of recent initiatives for overcoming barriers to innovation. Another significant recommendation addressed by the NRC assessment was that PATH should also focus on the diffusion and adoption of innovation in housing and the behaviors and the practices within the market. PATH completed a groundbreaking study of innovation diffusion among homebuilders and has started to look at how they respond to specific technologies. PATH is also looking at consumers’ perceptions of housing technologies and manufacturers’ commercialization processes. Since the beginning of the NRC’s assessment, the number of people accessing both PATHNET and the industry companion ToolBase has quintupled. Another change has been increased exploration of a variety of outreach media, such as print advertising and other marketing tools, with ongoing collaborations with publishers such as Reed, Handley, Wood, publishers of Fine Home Building, and McGraw-Hill Construction. PATH currently has ongoing communications with homebuilders through local National Association of Home Builders newsletters and is developing an outreach program with Home Depot. The NRC’s assessment clearly stated that, in spite of some difficulties, PATH should be continued. The program received legislative support in 2005 with an appropriation of $5 million for FY2006—40 percent less than the program started out with—but it means that it can continue and, hopefully, grow. There has also been discussion of possibly moving PATH to another office within HUD. 1   National Research Council, 2003, Promoting Innovation: 2002 Assessment of the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.

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Proceedings of a Workshop to Review PATH Strategy, Operating Plan, and Performance Measures Other agencies that address housing innovation, such as the Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, are experiencing similar budgetary pressures. There is an increasing need for collaboration in the planning of these programs. The NRC assessment also noted that for the PATH program to improve, it needs to have effective performance measures. HUD provided workshop participants with the PATH operating plan and the performance measures in hopes of obtaining a critical review of the proposed performance measures and suggestions for new ways of measuring performance. As a follow up to this workshop, and after further discussions with the Office of Management and Budget regarding the performance measures, PATH will develop its first independent evaluation using those measures.