The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) reduces Social Security benefits for retirees who also draw pension benefits from government employment not covered by Social Security. The Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act, a recently introduced congressional bill, would change how benefits are reduced. In this brief, we explore how the bill would improve the fairness of the adjustment for many beneficiaries, but also reduce Social

March 20, 2019
Research Report
 

New York City shows a tremendous need for robust social services. Nearly 3.8 million people (45 percent of residents) live in poverty or just above the federal poverty level—and income inequality continues to increase. The scope and scale of these issues, among others, require an extensive mobilization of resources to respond effectively, but organizations often lack the capacity to do so. Approximately 5,000 community-

March 14, 2019
Research Report
 

One of the often-discussed proposals to reform the health care system is a single-payer plan, sometimes called “Medicare for All.” Arguments for and against are wide ranging. There is also considerable confusion as to what “single payer” means and how it might operate. Consequently, this brief presents both a general picture of the most frequently mentioned single-payer proposal, and we delineate the advantages and disadvantages

March 12, 2019
Brief
 

On March 12, 2019, Mark Mazur testified in front of the 116th United States House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures for a hearing entitled, "Temporary Policy in the Internal Revenue Code."

March 12, 2019
Testimony
 

Income inequality is a suboptimal measure of inclusion at the city level. A low level of inequality can reflect the exclusion or displacement of low income residents, or it can reflect a lack of opportunity overall. Using data for 274 U.S. cities for the years 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2010, we create more complete measures of both economic and racial inclusion. We then compare these inclusion measures with the Gini coefficient

March 11, 2019
Research Report
 

The Affordable Care Act helped reduce financial barriers to birth control. But many women still face barriers, including real or perceived cost. In this brief, we summarize findings from interviews with 30 women about their decisions related to birth control, the importance of birth control in their lives, and their concerns about future access.

March 11, 2019
Brief
 

State government tax revenues have fluctuated wildly over the past year largely because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in late December 2017. Overall, year-over-year growth in state tax revenues was strong in the third quarter of 2018 but weaker than the growth observed in the final quarter of 2017 and the first half of 2018. Preliminary state government tax data for the fourth quarter of 2018 indicate declines in personal

March 11, 2019
Research Report
 

While the US government sector employs about 15 percent of nonfarm workers, federal, state, and local governments have not made substantial use of apprenticeships to enhance the skills of their workforce, increase productivity, and widen access to government positions. This report examines steps undertaken by Kentucky to build talent for state government through apprenticeship. The early outcomes are promising: departments can

March 8, 2019
Research Report
 

The 11th Street Bridge Park aims to create a lively pedestrian span across the Anacostia River that adds recreational, cultural, and environmental value for the District of Columbia while bringing greater economic opportunity and inclusion to longtime residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. The 1,200-foot bridge is slated for completion in 2023, and Bridge Park planners, nonprofit partners, residents, underwriters, and other

March 7, 2019
Research Report
 

Transitional youth are young people ages 16 to 24 who leave foster care without being adopted or reunited with their biological families and/or who are involved in the juvenile justice system, where they may be in detention or subject to terms of probation. With childhoods often marked by trauma and a lack of stability, transitional youth face notoriously poor outcomes across many areas of life. Pay for success (PFS) may provide

March 7, 2019
Research Report
 

There is a significant lack of mortgage financing available for low-cost homes, which many first-time homebuyers and lower income families rely on to move into homeownership. Earlier research on small-dollar mortgages explains the market deficit and landscape. In this study, the researchers show that the commonly held perception that small-dollar mortgages are riskier than larger mortgages is not accurate. While significantly

March 6, 2019
Brief
 

Data are a critical resource for government decisionmaking, and in recent years, local governments, in a bid for transparency, community engagement, and innovation, have released many municipal datasets on publicly accessible open data portals. Advocates, reporters, and others have voiced concerns about the bias of algorithms used to guide public decisions and the data that power them. Although significant progress is being made

March 5, 2019
Research Report
 

Erica Greenberg submitted testimony to the Connecticut General Assembly’s Education Committee and Appropriations committee outlining the reasons the state might consider changing how it counts low-income students for funding purposes. Her testimony explains why existing measures of student poverty are becoming less useful and provides an overview of a possible solution. An earlier version of this testimony was

March 1, 2019
Testimony
 

In November 2018, the Urban Institute hosted a roundtable discussion with 23 organizations representing policy research, academia, and philanthropy to share approaches, insights, and lessons from our respective efforts to confront structural racism in our research and policy analysis. This brief discusses the rationale for these efforts at implementing institutional change; the range of challenges and constraints facing

February 28, 2019
Brief
 

Solving America’s affordable housing crisis will mean increasing production of housing, protecting residents from eviction and foreclosure, and preventing the loss of current affordable housing stock.  For households unable to obtain housing benefits, unsubsidized “naturally occurring” rental housing provides the bulk of affordable housing in many markets. In the fall of 2018 Urban Institute conducted a

February 28, 2019
Research Report
 

Two powerful demographic processes—the falling birth rate and increasing life expectancy—are reshaping the US population. Longer life expectancy leads to a healthier population, greater capacity to work, and a more active lifestyle, but it also raises the share of the population over age 65—a traditional measure of population aging. This measure overstates aging problems and leads policymakers to misallocate government resources

February 27, 2019
Brief
 

Claudia L. Aranda, senior research associate, testified before the US House Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD) of the Committee on Appropriations on housing discrimination, its forms and its prevalence, and lessons from the past decade of paired-testing research conducted by the Urban Institute. The testimony summarizes research conducted since 2010 and shows that

February 27, 2019
Testimony
 

The February 2019 edition of At A Glance, the Housing Finance Policy Center’s reference guide for mortgage and housing market data, includes updated figures describing mortgage affordability by MSA, effective guarantee fees charged on new acquisitions, mortgage insurance activities and a special quarterly feature on GSE loan composition, repurchase rates, defaults, and loss severity.

February 27, 2019
Research Report
 

Impact investing approaches, which deploy capital seeking both a financial return and a social or environmental impact, have gained increasing attention and popularity. Conspicuously absent from many conversations on it, however, are state and local government actors. Yet there are clear benefits for governments to engage with impact investing as well as for impact investors, investees, and communities. For governments, impact

February 27, 2019
Research Report
 

This report explores strategies to end child food insecurity in Vermont. Although Vermont is a small, predominantly rural state, it is facing many of the same challenges as other regions in ensuring that all families have reliable access to affordable, healthy food. The state has taken advantage of being able to expanded eligibility for its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) Program, but one in eight households still

February 26, 2019
Research Report
 

The Affordable Care Act included several provisions to increase birth control access for women, including expanding insurance coverage and reducing financial barriers for reproductive health services. But, birth control access may be limited by other factors such as distance to a provider, difficulty getting an appointment, inconvenient provider or pharmacy hours, limited access to preferred methods, or lack of transportation or

February 26, 2019
Research Report
 

This report updates a new measure of homeownership affordability introduced in March, 2018: The Housing Affordability for Renters Index or HARI. The HARI improves upon other affordability measures by focusing exclusively on renters’ ability to buy homes. Renters are unique because first time homebuyers come from this population and they have lower incomes than homeowners. Moreover, unlike other indexes which focus on the

February 26, 2019
Research Report
 

What if everyone could afford quality housing, and every neighborhood offered a diversity of housing options? What if people up and down the income ladder could enjoy housing security and build wealth through homeownership? Achieving this vision requires more than incremental tinkering with today’s market institutions and public policies. It calls for bold action at all levels of government and in the private and nonprofit

February 25, 2019
Research Report