HUDRD - Exploring Office to Residential Conversions (HUDRD-EORC) NOFO
This NOFO announces the availability of up to $860,000 in grant funds to study recent efforts to convert downtown office buildings to properties with residential units since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The research funded under this NOFO will lay the groundwork for future studies contributing to general knowledge on the topic of office-to-residential conversions since the start of the pandemic, including the policy landscape, construction challenges, financial tools available for these conversions, and other policy interventions. Submitted research proposals must describe how the knowledge generated under the proposed project will contribute to understanding the Federal, state, or local policies and programs designed to address office-to- residential conversions.
Applicants are encouraged to submit research proposals that would advance the following objectives:
- Provide comparative case studies of at least six cities that have converted or are planning to convert office buildings to residential properties since the start of the pandemic, that:
- Describe contextual characteristics and community features of the cities selected for this study.
- Identify the conversion strategies observed cities have selected, the related challenges they have faced, and the ways they are attempting to overcome these challenges.
- Describe how the selected cities are using office-to-residential conversions to increase the supply of affordable housing and assess any outcomes or progress to date.
- Develop a community guide targeted to local leaders and development practitioners to assist communities that wish to convert office buildings into housing. The guide will include lessons learned, including how communities can increase their supply of affordable housing and address equity concerns through the conversion of office buildings.
- Identify ways to measure and evaluate the impact of office-to-residential conversions on housing affordability and other outcomes, such as municipal tax revenues, demographic compositions of neighborhoods, rental and occupancy rates, returns on investment, and other key metrics.
- Improve understanding of the financing limitations associated with conversions and identify how policy reforms, tax credits, subsidies, and other strategies can make more projects economically viable.
Applicants are encouraged to address the following research questions:
- Which cities are most actively promoting office-to-residential conversions since the start of the pandemic? How and why have these cities chosen to actively promote these conversions?
- Fully explain the variety of promising methods and practices being used to convert office space into housing, identifying the challenges and how they are overcome. Why were these practices successful? How have the challenges and policy solutions changed since the start of the pandemic? Are any of these new ideas potentially counter-productive?
- What design features help to reduce costs of conversion and increase the number of people who can be housed?
- What financing options are used in projects to convert office buildings into residential properties? How do the availability and use of historic tax credits, tax incentives, subsidies, and abatements impact the viability of projects? What other factors, including office vacancy rates, influence the feasibility of office-to-residential conversions?
- What policy levers exist for cities to incentivize developers to convert office space to residential use and include affordable housing units? What policy levers are cities using? How are cities using zoning and building code changes to facilitate these conversions? Which specific changes are most common and most effective?
- Which forms of government assistance, including subsidies, abatements, and tax credits, are most effective at spurring conversions?
- How do office-to-residential conversions affect tax revenue for local governments?
- How can or do cities use conversions to increase the supply of affordable and physically accessible housing?
- What are the equity and racial equity concerns (as defined in this NOFO) with conversions of office buildings to residential properties and what strategies do cities employ to ameliorate these issues?
- What is the role for the federal government in assisting communities that seek to convert vacant office space to affordable housing? How can existing tools be adapted to facilitate conversions (as an example, the Historic Tax Credit)?
- How can impacts of conversions be monitored, measured, and assessed in future research?
Funding of approximately $860,000 is available through this NOFO. HUD expects to make approximately 1 award from the funds available under this NOFO.
Program Office: Office of Policy Development and Research
Funding Opportunity Title: HUDRD - Exploring Office to Residential Conversions NOFO
Funding Opportunity Number: FR-6700-N-29L
Assistance Listing Number: 14.536
OMB Approval Number: 2528-0299
Opening Date: July 21, 2023
Deadline Date: October 12, 2023