Urban Institute selects Ellen Sahli of the Family Housing Fund for Janice Nittoli Fellowship

CONTACT: Kate Villarreal, kvillarreal@urban.org, (202) 261-5404

WASHINGTON, DC, February 27, 2019 –The Urban Institute has selected Ellen Sahli, president of the Minneapolis-based Family Housing Fund for the 2019 Janice Nittoli Practitioner Fellowship. The Nittoli fellowship pairs leading practitioners with Urban researchers to advance evidence-based solutions that alleviate inequalities. Sahli’s fellowship will focus on strategies to reduce evictions and support housing stability for low-income residents of St. Paul, MN.

“Ellen Sahli is a visionary who is addressing the complexities of the eviction crisis with creative and collaborative solutions,” said Sarah Rosen Wartell, president of the Urban Institute. “I am thrilled that she’s been awarded the Nittoli fellowship. Together we will work to refine and scale effective strategies to help people avoid the devastating consequences of eviction, drawing from her deep experience in the affordable housing field and Urban’s technical expertise.”    

The fellowship, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, honors the late Janice Nittoli, former associate vice president and managing director of the Foundation.

“We know that housing stability is a vital building block for individuals and families seeking economic opportunity,” said Debbie Wright, managing director at The Rockefeller Foundation. “Janice Nittoli’s path breaking work continues to inspire us today, as we work to ensure low-income residents have access to jobs and economic opportunity, in a rapidly changing economy. We are therefore honored to advance Ellen Sahli’s work in this field, with the Nittoli fellowship.”

Sahli has served as president of the Family Housing Fund (FHFund) since 2015. FHFund’s mission is to build a strong housing system that supports access to decent, affordable housing for everyone in the Twin Cities region. FHFund and partners have launched a Housing Court project at Ramsey County District Court to provide wrap-around services to address housing needs and attempt to avoid eviction writs.

The next stage of FHFund’s work is to focus on neighborhoods where evictions are happening at the highest rate. Working with community-based and grassroots organizations, they will target interventions and financial assistance to address crises as they arise and before eviction actions are filed. With an Urban research team led by senior policy associate Maya Brennan and Chief Innovation Officer Erika Poethig, Sahli will spend the next twelve months developing an evidence-based strategy to reduce eviction filings and preserve the landlord/tenant relationship in order to support housing stability for low-income residents.

“I have long admired the Urban team,” said Sahli. “I’m so honored to have been chosen as this year’s Nittoli fellow. Having the expertise of the Urban researchers will help us better understand how we can prevent eviction filings. We hope to learn more about the most effective interventions to keep landlords and tenants out of eviction court.” 

About the Nittoli Fellowship

The Janice Nittoli Practitioner Fellowship committee selects one practitioner each year whose work focuses on inequality and economic and social mobility. Practitioners pose a critical question about their work to be answered—or at least advanced—by the research, evidence-based analysis, and evaluation done at Urban.

Throughout her career, Nittoli combined a strong commitment to removing barriers to opportunity with an abiding belief that rigorous research and evidence-based decisionmaking could contribute to that cause. To honor her life’s work, the Nittoli fellowship supports practitioners working toward social change and provides them with research and strategies to improve their workplace and communities of practice.

The nonprofit Urban Institute is a leading research organization dedicated to developing evidence-based insights that improve people’s lives and strengthen communities. For 50 years, Urban has been the trusted source for rigorous analysis of complex social and economic issues; strategic advice to policymakers, philanthropists, and practitioners; and new, promising ideas that expand opportunities for all. Our work inspires effective decisions that advance fairness and enhance the well-being of people and places.