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Maya Brennan

Maya Brennan

Senior Policy Associate

To strengthen communities, improve the use of public resources, and support people in achieving their goals, research cannot stay in a vacuum. At Urban, I am empowered to develop solutions using evidence and an ongoing dialogue with communities, policymakers, and other researchers.


Maya Brennan is a senior policy associate in the Research to Action Lab at the Urban Institute. She applies knowledge from multidisciplinary research to maximize well-being for individuals, families, and neighborhoods. She seeks ways to engage housing programs and policies in supporting broader social and economic policy goals, and she clarifies complex information for new audiences and helps stakeholders find common ground.

Brennan is a principal investigator for the How Housing Matters program, which blends research, policy, and communications capacities to clarify housing’s connections with other social and economic outcomes and to identify and elevate evidence-based, cross-disciplinary solutions. The program employs targeted approaches, such as testimony and localized events, and a field-wide information portal that puts compelling stories and relevant research into the hands of advocates and decisionmakers.

Brennan has written about ending family homelessness, engaging investors in equitable and inclusive housing, and envisioning housing systems changes that could reduce hardship and promote well-being. Other interests include community-based partnerships, eviction prevention, and community change. She strives for solutions that enhance individuals’ self-efficacy and build equitably and inclusively on neighborhood assets to close long-standing disparities.

Brennan holds a BA in liberal arts from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and an MS in urban policy analysis and management from the New School, where she received the Jacob Kaplan Award. She was a member of the research team at the National Housing Conference and a vice president of the Urban Land Institute Terwilliger Center for Housing.