Howard University has engaged in urban housing and community development research for over 50
years. Its commitment to working with underserved populations extends further, to its founding in 1867
with a mandate to serve the needs of both free and newly freed enslaved African Americans.
During the 1970s, Howard University operated the Institute for Urban Affairs and Research under the
leadership of social work scholar Dr. Lawrence Gary. Later, Howard University launched the Center for
Urban Progress (CUP) in 1994 under the leadership of economics scholar Dr. Rodney D. Green using
funds from the Mordecai Wyatt Johnson program in the College of Arts and Sciences. During its early
years, CUP focused on supporting the underserved populations near the university, conducting joint
community development projects with many local non-profit housing developers and other social
service providers. Its holistic engagement with the community includes projects in education,
community development, housing, public housing, workforce development, environmental justice,
disparities in health care, and program evaluation. It financed these projects through external funding
from foundations, federal and local government agencies, and the private sector.
In 2006, the Center on Race and Wealth was launched under the leadership of economics scholar Dr.
William Spriggs and then economic scholars Drs. Rodney D. Green, Charles L. Betsey, and Haydar
Kurban. Its focus on research and the preparation of the next generation of scholars of color continues
today to support advanced graduate students and carry out studies to support policy aimed at
narrowing the racial wealth gap in the U.S.
These earlier efforts demonstrate the commitment of Howard University to the underserved and lay
the foundation for the launch of the Center of Excellence in Housing and Urban Research and Policy
(CHURP). With substantial funding support from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development, CHURP engages today in many policy-oriented research projects to address the needs of
the underserved and to help ensure that their voice is heard in the public policy arena.