Disability equity policy
The Urban Institute’s Disability Equity Policy Initiative (DEPI) is working to build a body of evidence to improve the lives of disabled people. The initiative aims to equip policymakers and practitioners with the rigorous, timely, and actionable research they need to advance economic mobility, housing stability, community connections, and a more accessible and equitable public safety net.

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  • Policy Centers Health Policy Center Income and Benefits Policy Center Justice Policy Center Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center Office of Race and Equity Research
    Research Areas Aging and retirement Health and health care Housing Economic mobility and inequality Race and equity Social safety net Workforce
    Tags Disabilities and employment Disability and long-term care Disability Insurance


    Because of ableism and structural racism in policy and practice, disabled people have higher poverty rates than their nondisabled peers, and disabled people of color face even greater economic hardships. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these issues, disproportionately harming the physical health and financial well-being of disabled people and people of color and exposing the shortfalls of many of our country’s support systems.

    But the full impacts of the pandemic are not well understood, and when disparities are not documented, they can be invisible to policymakers. The pandemic underscored the importance of data. Rigorous, timely, and actionable research is critical to advancing policy solutions that address long-standing systemic inequities.

    DEPI, which is housed within the Office of Race and Equity Research, aims to bring a disability lens to Urban’s work and elevate the expertise of disabled researchers. Independent scholars across all of Urban’s policy centers work on research related to disability, including research on safety net programs, income and benefits, employment and workforce development, immigration and refugee policy, material hardship, caregiving, and affordable housing. DEPI aims to build on this work and support new evidence-based policymaking by exploring three key research areas: housing for disabled people, immigrants with disabilities, and challenges for disabled people living in rural areas.


    The Disability Equity Policy Initiative is funded by the Ford Foundation, The Kelsey, and the RRF Foundation for Aging. We are grateful to them and to all our funders, who make it possible for Urban to advance its mission. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders. Funders do not determine research findings or the insights and recommendations of Urban experts.

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    • Principal Policy Associate
    • Senior Research Fellow
    • Senior Policy Program Manager
    • Research Associate
    • Development Associate
    • Senior Research Associate
    • Senior Fellow
      Director, Program on Retirement Policy
    • Policy Analyst
    • Senior Manager
    • Research Analyst
    • Institute Fellow
      Codirector, Disability Equity Policy Initiative
    • Research Assistant
    • Senior Fellow
    • Senior Research Associate
    • Senior Policy Fellow
    • Senior Fellow
    • Senior Research Fellow
      Cofounder, Center for Victim Research
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