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MacArthur Foundation awards $500,000 to Maxwell School for housing affordability research

April 27, 2012

Jill Leonhardt
(315) 443-5492

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has awarded $500,000 to Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs to study how housing affordability affects decisions made by older adults about their health care, living arrangements and well-being. The project is one of five grants awarded by the MacArthur Foundation as part of its "How Housing Matters to Families and Communities" initiative, which explores if and how quality, stable, affordable housing promotes positive outcomes in education, employment and physical health, among other areas.  

Gary Engelhardt, Melvin A. Eggers Faculty Scholar and professor of economics in the Center for Policy Research at the Maxwell School, will lead a team of scholars from the University of Georgia and Kent State University. The project is an innovative approach to the empirical economic analysis of the relationship between affordable housing and the health, medical expenditures and living arrangements of older Americans.  

“The lack of affordable housing for the elderly is a significant social problem. An important factor in private and public sector efforts to address housing needs is the strong correlation between health and housing at older ages, suggesting housing and health issues should be considered in tandem. Unfortunately, research projects rarely focus on housing and health together,” says Engelhardt. “This project marries methods used by housing and health researchers to examine elderly housing affordability and its impact in a broad set of domains.” 

The project is expected to directly inform a number of current affordable housing and aging policy efforts at the federal and state levels:

  • expansion of subsidies at the state and federal levels for home modifications to help the elderly age in place;
  • clear and cost-effective benefits to justify expanded in-home and housing related services; and
  • potential savings to Medicare and Medicaid from bundling in-home and community-based care with affordable housing.

The MacArthur Foundation grant provides funding for faculty excellence, one of the pillars of The Campaign for Syracuse University. With a goal of $1 billion, The Campaign for Syracuse University is the most ambitious fundraising effort in SU’s history. By supporting student access, faculty excellence, interdisciplinary programs, capital projects and other institutional priorities, the campaign is continuing to drive Scholarship in Action, the University’s vision to provide students, faculty and communities with the insights needed to incite positive and lasting change in the world. More information is available online at

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