The District of Columbia and the surrounding suburbs face complex, interconnected problems within a rapidly evolving region. The Urban Institute conducts research on a variety of policy challenges facing the Washington region, including work on child well-being, education reform, affordable housing, homelessness, poverty, crime, and health care. Through these projects, the Institute helps policymakers understand Washington's unique needs and develop practical strategies to meet those needs.
Research areas include:
Crime and Justice
District of Columbia Crime Policy Institute Focused on crime and justice policy in Washington, D.C., DCPI’s mission is to support improvements in the administration of justice and public safety policies through evidence-based research.
NeighborhoodInfo DC Focused on supporting community organizations, neighborhood leadership, residents, and government through providing a wide-range of data indicators about D.C. neighborhoods.
Publications on Washington D.C. Region
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Police vehicles burn a great deal of fuel while patrolling continuously. Various approaches have been proven to significantly reduce the amount of fuel used and its cost. Hybrid vehicles typically get two-three times higher mileage per gallon than conventional vehicles and have proven viable for policing, in many cities, including New York. Computers in vehicles that reduce trips back to stations, fuel-saving driving techniques (such as reducing idling), good vehicle maintenance (such as maintaining proper tire pressures), use of on-line reporting and other strategies such as community policing that require fewer vehicle trips also can reduce fuel consumption.
In April 2006, the District of Columbia implemented a child support pass-through and disregard policy for families in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) caseload, passing through the first $150 per month of child support paid to these families and disregarding this amount when determining their TANF benefits. This study provides a process evaluation of the policy implementation and uses a difference-in-difference framework to assess policy impacts. Our results suggest that noncustodial parents with a current support order for children on TANF paid 5.6 percent more child support as a result of the pass-through policy.
This Model Bullying Prevention Policy is a comprehensive strategy that was developed for all youth-serving agencies in the District of Columbia. The policy employs a three-level public health model to prevent bullying, which involves shifting agency norms; delivering services to at-risk youth; and responding to bullying incidents in a way that inhibits subsequent acts, with an emphasis on data analysis to measure intervention success. The policy was developed by the Urban Institute in collaboration with the 42-members of the District of Columbia Mayor's Bullying Prevention Task Force and Office of Human Rights.
This report identifies methods for addressing violence and disorder around bars. We find that safe drinking environments and strong community partnerships are key buffers against alcohol-related crimes. Safer drinking environments can be fostered by training bouncers in conflict resolution, ensuring bar design does not create overcrowding, and enforcing laws restricting service to intoxicated persons aggressively. Building partnerships with local businesses and neighborhood groups creates public support both for setting bar safety standards and for closing bars that are chronically problematic. This project was funded by the Justice Grants Administration in the Executive Office of the Mayor.
In many cities, false alarms from home and business security systems number in the tens of thousands each year, waste millions of dollars of officer time, and detract from attention to reducing crimes. Options are presented on ways to substantially reduce the effects of such false alarms and the police responses to them. We analyzed experiences of Montgomery County, MD; Seattle, WA; and Salt Lake City, UT, which reduced false alarms by 66-90% and saved 10-30 police officer-years annually.