The nonprofit behind the "genius grant" awards — the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation — is seeking to fund research that shows how housing impacts the economy, as well as individual, community and regional economic success.

The MacArthur Foundation is accepting research abstracts until Jan. 11 for the final year of a five-year, $25 million research initiative, "How Housing Matters to Families and Communities." Individuals, nonprofits, academic institutions, and units of government are eligible to apply.

This year’s competition seeks to shed light on the difference that living in decent, stable and affordable housing makes in the lives of children, families and communities. Proposals on all topics are welcomed. Examples of topics that the MacArthur Foundation would consider acceptable include:

  • The role of housing in promoting economic mobility.
  • The neighborhood-level economic effects of programs enacted to address the foreclosure crisis (such as REO-to-rental, HARP, and HAMP).
  • An evaluation of pilot programs that integrate housing supports such as rent subsidies and housing counseling with a workforce support structure like unemployment insurance.
  • The effect of the housing downturn on the fiscal challenges faced by state and local governments.
  • The effect of energy efficient or environmentally friendly designs on household finances.

Applicants are encouraged to view the descriptions of past studies funded by the program during the last four years.

The MacArthur Foundation will consider providing up to $1 million in funding for studies taking one to three years to complete.

A number of abstracts will be selected by March 19, and their authors will be invited to submit full proposals by April 29. Full proposals will undergo an external review process with final funding decisions made in September 2013.

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