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Cities and Neighborhoods

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Our research on cities and communities cuts across several Urban Institute specialties—housing trends, crime prevention, economic development, arts and culture, and more.

Our urban studies define much of our history, from evaluations of community development corporations in poor neighborhoods to road-tested ideas for rebuilding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, to more recent projects helping policymakers monitor communities' progress. We also work closely with local groups to grasp and address the Washington, D.C., area's challenges. Read more.

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Ten Years of Language Access in Washington, DC (Research Report)
Hamutal Bernstein, Julia Gelatt, Devlin Hanson, William Monson

This report provides an overview of the implementation of the Language Access Act within the context of the unique demographic and economic characteristics of the District's immigrant community. We describe DC's Language Access Program, its creation, and evolution, profile the city's LEP/NEP population, and identify accomplishments and challenges for each of the three major domains required for ensuring full language access: identifying language needs, serving language needs, and monitoring the provision of those services. We conclude with recommendations for next steps for city government officials and other stakeholders as they continue to strengthen the Language Access Program in the District.

Posted to Web: April 15, 2014Publication Date: April 15, 2014

Driving to Opportunity: Understanding the Links among Transportation Access, Residential Outcomes, and Economic Opportunity for Housing Voucher Recipients (Research Report)
Rolf Pendall, Christopher Hayes, Taz George, Zach McDade, Additional Authors

In the 1990s and early 2000s, the Department of Housing and Urban Development sponsored two major experiments to test whether housing choice vouchers propelled low-income households into greater economic security, the Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing program (MTO) and the Welfare to Work Voucher program (WTW). Using data from these programs, this study examines differences in residential location and employment outcomes between voucher recipients with access to automobiles and those without. Overall, the findings underscore the positive role of automobiles in outcomes for housing voucher participants.

Posted to Web: March 31, 2014Publication Date: March 31, 2014

Innovations in NYC Health and Human Services Policy: Early Learn NYC (Research Brief)
Julia Gelatt, Heather Sandstrom

As part of the Bloomberg administration’s focus on young children, New York City reorganized its system of contracted child care through EarlyLearn NYC. This program braided funding from child care, Head Start, and state universal prekindergarten to improve access and continuity for low-income children and their families. EarlyLearn NYC has implemented higher program quality standards and redistributed contracts across the city to increase the supply of care in targeted, high-need neighborhoods. This brief is one in a series examining selected social service initiatives undertaken during the Bloomberg administration.

Posted to Web: March 31, 2014Publication Date: March 31, 2014

The Framework for Safer Return: A Research-Based Community Initiative (Research Report)
Shelli B. Rossman, Jocelyn Fontaine, Rochelle Perry

Safer Return—funded by the MacArthur Foundation, and designed jointly by Urban Institute researchers and Safer Foundation staff—was an action research demonstration implemented in Chicago's Garfield Park neighborhood between 2008 and 2013. This brief retrospectively describes the context in which the program model was developed, the activities performed during the strategic planning process, existing evidence-based or promising programs examined for possible inclusion in Safer Return, features of the model as it was initially conceptualized, and the proposed multi-method research design that uses a quasi-experimental approach and primary and secondary data collection to capture individual, family, and community results.

Posted to Web: March 28, 2014Publication Date: March 28, 2014

Community Ties, Public Safety and Reentry: Residents' Perspectives (Research Brief)
Jocelyn Fontaine, Douglas Gilchrist-Scott

This brief focuses on community surveys conducted in Garfield Park and West Englewood in November 2009 as part of the evaluation of the Safer Return Demonstration. The brief discusses residents’ perspectives on community resources, social control and cohesion, police officials, crime and victimization, and perceptions of individuals returning from prison to the community. It finds the two neighborhoods comparable in sociodemographic characteristics and that the reentry context in both neighborhoods is depressed overall, but worse in West Englewood than Garfield Park. There is tremendous support for returning prisoners among community residents, which assists Safer Return and other community-based reentry programs.

Posted to Web: March 28, 2014Publication Date: March 28, 2014

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