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Martin D. Abravanel
Senior Research Associate
Chair, Urban Institute Institutional Review Board
  • Profile
  • Outside Affiliations
  • In No Good Applied Social Research Goes Unpunished, eminent sociologist Peter Rossi observed, ‘I have continued to do applied social research even though my work has often been controversial and greeted with little applause and sometimes even strong criticism.’ Applied researchers learn over time there may be little tolerance among peers, funders, or advocates for research producing controversial or contrary findings. They also learn that in the policy arena, evidence often does not matter. Therefore, it is refreshing to be associated with an organization like Urban, which can boast a long and distinguished tradition of valuing rigorous, independent, and objective research and program evaluation and of standing behind the findings that follow thereon.

    Martin Abravanel is a senior research associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute, where he has designed and directed various research and evaluation projects covering low-income housing programs; community development and revitalization programs; the fair housing law; and performance measurement—the latter including studies of customer satisfaction as well as national service. Abravanel chairs Urban’s institutional review board, charged with reviewing all of Urban’s research projects for human subjects’ protections. He is also a member of MDRC’s institutional review board.

    Abravanel has conducted research supported by federal government agencies as well as private foundations. Included are the US Department of the Treasury’s New Markets Tax Credit program; the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) housing choice voucher, HOPE VI public housing, and Moving to Work programs; and the Corporation for National and Community Service’s performance measurement system. He directed a series of innovative surveys of the general public’s knowledge, support, and use of federal fair housing law; and of HUD’s key implementation partners, assessing their satisfaction with the department’s performance. He prepared a guide for nonprofit organizations on how to survey their clients about outcomes.

    Before joining Urban in 1997, Abravanel directed the Division of Policy Studies at HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research. In that capacity, he supervised an in-house team of senior social science research analysts, studying a range of individual and cross cutting program and policy issues.

    Abravanel received his PhD in political science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

    Research Areas
    Neighborhoods, cities, and metros
    Social safety net
    Community and economic development

    Outside Affiliations
    Member, Institutional Review Board

    Urban experts are permitted and empowered to work and affiliate with outside organizations, whether serving on boards, volunteering their time, or providing advice and counsel. And Urban welcomes visiting scholars, nonresident or affiliated fellows who work for other organizations. These outside affiliations enrich our perspectives and our learning environment. We also require all paid and unpaid experts to disclose their affiliations to Urban leadership and follow rules governing their engagement to ensure transparency for audiences and independence of experts.