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Our research on cities and communities cuts across several Urban Institute specialties—housing trends, crime prevention, economic development, arts and culture, and more.

Our urban studies define much of our history, from evaluations of community development corporations in poor neighborhoods to road-tested ideas for rebuilding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, to more recent projects helping policymakers monitor communities' progress. We also work closely with local groups to grasp and address the Washington, D.C., area's challenges. Read more.

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Partner's Perspective: NNIP and Open Data in Baltimore (Research Report)
Eric Burnstein, Seema Iyer

The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance—Jacob France Institute (BNIA-JFI) housed at the University of Baltimore is a key player in Baltimore’s open data community. BNIA-JFI connects the city government, civil society, and the tech community through hackathons and other events to create products like baltimorevacants.org, an online mapping tool that pinpoints vacant buildings and links them to neighborhood-level demographic indicators. The increasing number of people and organizations who want BNIA-JFI to provide open data solidifies BNIA-JFI’s role in the conversation on data-driven decisionmaking for neighborhoods.

Posted to Web: September 03, 2014Publication Date: September 03, 2014

Transforming Performance Measurement for the 21st Century (Research Report)
Harry P. Hatry

While substantial progress has been made in spreading performance measurement across the country and world, much of the information from performance measurement systems has been shallow. Modern technology and the considerable demand for information on progress in achieving the outcomes of public programs and policies are creating major opportunities for considerably improving the usefulness of performance information. This report provides a number of recommendations to help public and private service organizations take advantage of these opportunities, particularly for:(a) selecting appropriate performance indicators and data collection procedures; (b) analyzing and reporting the information; and (c) using the information to improve services.

Posted to Web: July 30, 2014Publication Date: July 30, 2014

Debt in America (Research Report)
Caroline Ratcliffe, Brett Theodos, Signe-Mary McKernan, Emma Kalish, Additional Authors

Debt can be constructive, allowing people to build equity in homes or finance education, but it can also burden families into the future. Total debt is driven by mortgage debt; both are highly concentrated in high-cost housing markets, mostly along the coasts. Among Americans with a credit file, average total debt was $53,850 in 2013, but was substantially higher for people with a mortgage ($209,768) than people without a mortgage ($11,592). Non-mortgage debt, in contrast, is more spatially dispersed. It ranges from a low of $14,532 in the East South Central division to a high of $17,883 in New England.

Posted to Web: July 29, 2014Publication Date: July 29, 2014

Delinquent Debt in America (Research Report)
Caroline Ratcliffe, Signe-Mary McKernan, Brett Theodos, Emma Kalish, Additional Authors

Roughly 77 million Americans, or 35 percent of adults with a credit file, have a report of debt in collections. These adults owe an average of $5,178 (median $1,349). Debt in collections involves a nonmortgage bill—such as a credit card balance, medical or utility bill—that is more than 180 days past due and has been placed in collections. 5.3 percent of people with a credit file have a report of past due debt, indicating they are between 30 and 180 days late on a nonmortgage payment. Both debt in collections and debt past due are concentrated in the South.

Posted to Web: July 29, 2014Publication Date: July 29, 2014

1 in 3 Americans with a Credit File Has Debt Reported in Collections (Press Release)
Urban Institute

Thirty-five percent of adults have a debt in collections reported in their credit files, an Urban Institute study shows. Nevada, hit hard by the housing crisis, tops the list of states: 47 percent of people with a credit file have reported debt in collections. The state also has the highest average collections debt. Twelve other states (11 in the South) and the District of Columbia top 40 percent.

Posted to Web: July 29, 2014Publication Date: July 29, 2014

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