Urban Wire Urban–Greater DC’s best of 2018
Nicole Levins
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The Urban Institute has strong roots in Washington, DC, our home base for the past 50 years. With the launch of the Urban–Greater DC initiative earlier this year we renewed our commitment to the broader region.

On our new website, researchers, practitioners, and residents can find the latest data on their neighborhoods and counties and use it to tell stories about area employment, education, public safety, and more. In Highlights, Urban researchers weigh in on the issues and challenges facing the region, including the controversy surrounding Initiative 77 and strategies for closing equity gaps.

Here are some of the biggest stories we covered in 2018—plus a few you might have missed.

What HQ2 could mean for the Washington region’s housing market, in seven charts

Last month, Amazon made it official: its second headquarters will be split between New York’s Long Island City and northern Virginia’s National Landing. Though the decision raised alarm about the region’s housing affordability issues, HQ2 presents an opportunity for advocates, local officials, and the business community to identify strategies to better meet the needs of area families at all income levels.

The state of immigrants in the District of Columbia

In under 50 years, the total immigrant population in the DC metropolitan area increased tenfold—from 130,000 in 1970 to 1.3 million today. In the city itself, the population grew from 33,600 to 95,400 between 1970 and 2016. What do we know about immigrants living in the District?

What’s it like to be young and homeless in DC?

The 2017 DC Youth Count found 1,117 young city residents experiencing literal homelessness or doubling up with friends or strangers, but official estimates are widely considered undercounts. Young people like Bre, a college student, shared what it’s like to struggle with homelessness in the nation’s capital.

When school choice means crossing town

DC’s public school lottery program gives all students the chance to attend their public or charter school of choice, regardless of where they live. But unlike other cities, DC doesn’t offer yellow bus service to help students get to those schools—which works from some students, but leaves others with few options.

How do cities in the DC region rank on inclusion and shared prosperity? 

Are residents with lower incomes and residents of color able to contribute to and benefit from the region’s economic prosperity? See where the District of Columbia, Alexandria, Baltimore, and Richmond fall in our national rankings of economic and racial inclusion.

In Prince George’s County, Maryland: Supporting students to be resilient, successful, and ready to learn

From 2015 to 2017, TNI@School served over 2,180 students and their families, helping to remove barriers to academic success, improve academic outcomes, and stabilize families. As it moves forward, the initiative will use data from partners and schools to measure its impact on the families of Prince George’s County.

The 11th Street Bridge Park tests the community land trust model for equitable development

Development can bring new investment to areas that have suffered from structural disinvestment—like communities east of the Anacostia River—but it can also increase living costs and displace residents. Can a community land trust give long-term residents a foothold in a changing neighborhood?

What does compensation look like for early childhood educators in the DC area?

The region’s early childhood educators have lower average hourly wages ($15.25) than even entry-level public school kindergarten teachers with no previous experience ($27.36). The gap is substantial even among early childhood educators with a bachelor’s degree and would be larger if you factor in key benefits like paid time off, retirement, and insurance.

Elevating cultural relevance and racial equity in research and evaluation

Interest in evidence-based programs is increasing not just among policymakers but also philanthropic organizations and nonprofits. Here’s how Asian American Youth Leadership Empowerment and Development, which provides programs for underserved, low-income Asian American youth in the greater DC area, informs its work with research specific to the needs, assets, and diversity of the people it serves.


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The Urban Institute podcast, Evidence in Action, inspires changemakers to lead with evidence and act with equity. Cohosted by Urban President Sarah Rosen Wartell and Executive Vice President Kimberlyn Leary, every episode features in-depth discussions with experts and leaders on topics ranging from how to advance equity, to designing innovative solutions that achieve community impact, to what it means to practice evidence-based leadership.


Research Areas Neighborhoods, cities, and metros Greater DC