The District of Columbia and the surrounding suburbs face complex, interconnected problems within a rapidly evolving region. The Urban Institute conducts research on a variety of policy challenges facing the Washington region, including work on child well-being, education reform, affordable housing, homelessness, poverty, crime, and health care. Through these projects, the Institute helps policymakers understand Washington's unique needs and develop practical strategies to meet those needs.
Research areas include:
Crime and Justice
District of Columbia Crime Policy Institute Focused on crime and justice policy in Washington, D.C., DCPI’s mission is to support improvements in the administration of justice and public safety policies through evidence-based research.
NeighborhoodInfo DC Focused on supporting community organizations, neighborhood leadership, residents, and government through providing a wide-range of data indicators about D.C. neighborhoods.
Publications on Washington D.C. Region
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The Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area Housing Monitor – First Quarter 2012 and its accompanying County Profiles are co-published quarterly by NeighborhoodInfo DC and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. The Monitor gives a snapshot of sales market trends. Sales volumes continue at levels lower than when the foreclosure crisis began. About 5,000 homes were sold in the first quarter of 2012, a decrease from the year before. The median sales price rose 4.3% in one year to $321,000. The average home stayed on the market 12 weeks, a small decrease from one year earlier.
The Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area Housing Monitor – Second Quarter 2012 and its accompanying County Profilesis a quarterly publication co-published by NeighborhoodInfo DC and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. The Monitor gives a snapshot of sales market trends. Almost 7,000 homes were sold in the second quarter of 2012, an increase from the year before. The median sales price rose 4.6% in one year to $371,000. The average home stayed on the market 8 weeks, a 15.9% decrease from one year earlier.
Random-assignment experiments are the gold standard for assessing the impact of a policy or program for good reason, but they are not always a good option. For place-based initiatives, spillover effects and other factors make random assignment studies inappropriate. There are other methods, some of which use propensity score reweighting, that can credibly estimate impacts for these programs.
As a member of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, NeighborhoodInfo DC provides community-based organizations and residents in the District of Columbia with local data and analysis they can use to improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods. Since the start of the national foreclosure crisis, NeighborhoodInfo DC has been providing data on households and neighborhoods affected by foreclosures to local partners, allowing them to target their efforts to reduce negative impacts and help more families stay in their homes. This brief highlights our work of making foreclosure data accessible in the District of Columbia and gives examples of how our partners have used this information to assist vulnerable homeowners and renters.
Social impact bonds (SIBs) inject private-sector capital into public-sector activities for improved outcomes and innovation. Private investors fund interventions that are uncomfortably risky or expensive for the public sector. If established performance targets are met, investors are rewarded with the profits. Otherwise, the government does not pay for the services delivered. In the SIB model everybody may win: investors leverage resources for potential profit and provide a socially beneficial investment, while the government gets private-sector investment for a new intervention. We believe that Bill B20-125 is insufficient to support SIBs in the District of Columbia.