The Urban Institute
Research Assistant (Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center) (R&D)
At the nonprofit Urban Institute, we believe in the power of evidence to improve lives and strengthen communities. Our employees are empowered to open minds, shape decisions, and offer solutions. We encourage intellectual honesty, innovation, diversity, and mutual respect, and our analysis elevates the debate, wherever it takes place.
Urban's greatest asset is our people. We strive to attract and cultivate a vibrant, creative, and diverse community. Our employees drive Urban's mission through entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership, effective communication, results-orientation, and relationship cultivation. Our success depends on engaging individuals who possess and value these attributes.
Within the Urban Institute, the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center (Metro) conducts research on how housing and place shape people's lives. We believe that housing and place matter. Quality, affordable housing anchors families, and the communities where people live can influence nearly everything in their lives: where they work and how they get there; the quality of schools that their children attend; their health and safety; and even their longevity. Our work sits at the intersection of housing and communities and is grounded in racial equity.
Metro is made up of six different practice areas that focus on specific areas of research. They are: Climate and Communities, Community and Economic Development, Cities and Neighborhoods, Ending Homelessness, Fair Housing, and Housing as a Foundation. Descriptions of each are included at the bottom of the job post.
The Research Assistant is responsible for assisting senior researchers and research teams in successfully executing defined research tasks. This person hired for this position will be assigned to one of Metro's research practice areas, which is intended to account for a large portion of their work. Assignments are made based on the needs of the center, taking into consideration a research assistant's subject matter interest, expertise, and project portfolio.
Collection and analysis of qualitative and/or quantitative data. Including producing literature reviews, conducting field work (such as interviews and site visits), and writing programs to manage and analyze data in software such as R or Stata.
Production of tables, charts, and maps.
Contributing to and/or editing a variety of publications for difference audiences, including research reports, briefs, blogs, and other deliverables.
Completion of logistical tasks for research proposals, internal and external research events, and research management.
Completion of administrative tasks such as tracking project timelines, project reporting, taking and summarizing meeting minutes, and other tasks as assigned.
Independent time management and collaboration with teams to prioritize and complete multiple tasks.
The successful candidate will have:
Bachelor's degree or associate's degree with equivalent experience required, preferably in the field of Public Policy, Urban Studies, Urban Planning, Data Science, Sociology, Economics, Statistics, Environmental Studies, Geography, Social Welfare, Education, Psychology, or related field of inquiry.
Demonstrated qualitative and/or quantitative research skills.
Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
Capacity to conduct library and internet research quickly and with strong critical thinking analysis.
Proficiency with publication, spreadsheet, and presentation software.
Familiarity with data analysis tools and software such as Stata, R, or SAS.
Strong time management skills and high level of professionalism.
High level of organization and motivation, creativity, and self-confidence; we seek individuals who can work effectively, independently, and simultaneously on multiple projects.
Bilingual abilities, although not required are a plus.
Have a willingness and ability to travel when conditions make travel safe.
Strong interest in one or more of the following topics: housing and housing-related assistance programs, homelessness, demographic and population studies, urban planning and land use, community economic development, city governance and public-sector capacity, climate change, environmental justice, housing and neighborhoods as a platform for other household and societal outcomes, structural racism, and inequality.
Metro's Practice Areas:
The Cities and Neighborhoods practice area focuses on policy topics related to understanding neighborhoods and cities, with a focus on people's wellbeing and racial and economic equity across neighborhoods. Our group collaborates closely with governments and practitioners through research, peer-learning networks, and technical assistance, such as through Urban-Greater DC, National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, and Promise Neighborhoods. We also conduct program evaluations and document best practices related to community-driven change, including the community use of data.
The Climate and Communities practice area studies the connections between our built and natural environments and social and economic outcomes. We focus on policy topics such as climate adaptation and mitigation, resilience and urban planning, disaster response and recovery, housing quality, and energy transitions— with a focus on impacts on communities of color, populations with low and moderate incomes, and socially vulnerable populations.
The Community and Economic Development practice area focuses on policy topics such as capital and investment flows, inclusive recovery, financing for community initiatives, small business development, Opportunity Zones and other economic development programs—all primarily in relation to low- and moderate-income households and other social disparities.
The Ending Homelessness practice area focuses on policy topics such as homelessness assistance and coordination systems, evidence-based solutions to end homelessness for individuals, families, veterans, and youth, outcomes-based financing for programs to end homelessness, and intersections with child welfare, criminal justice, health, and other system outcomes.
The Housing as a Foundation practice area focuses on housing as a foundation for daily life and a hub connecting people to their communities – where they live and who they are connected to – and surrounding resources. With a focus on vulnerable people, under-resourced places, and redressing the harms of structural racism, our research uncovers strategies to strengthen affordable housing options, improve health and education, and center resident and community power and voice. We seek the alignment of these systems and policies for the benefit of people and their communities by exposing barriers and overcoming challenges to change.
The Housing Markets and Discrimination practice area conducts research on policies and practice with the potential to improve housing stability for low-income households and to encourage racial and economic equity across neighborhoods. Policy topics include housing discrimination and segregation, ensuring equal access to opportunity-rich neighborhoods, land-use regulation and zoning, and encouraging affordable housing creation and preservation in a diversity of markets and neighborhoods.
Working in the Nation's Capital, the epicenter of public policy among a network of policy experts, you can expect to have an impact on policy areas you care about and work with great colleagues who are smart, mission-driven, and collaborative. You will blend academic rigor with on-the-ground collaboration, be encouraged and supported to fulfill your potential through meaningful work that matters, and enjoy a welcoming workplace free from harassment, discrimination, and intolerance.
Also, we offer a comprehensive benefits package that includes: medical, dental, disability, and life insurance coverage, competitive paid time off allowance, and eligibility to participate in a generous retirement savings plan and reimbursable commuting expense program.
The Urban Institute is committed to Equal Employment Opportunity without regard for race, ethnicity, gender, protected veteran status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other protected status under applicable law.
The Urban Institute is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer Minorities/Women/Disabilities/Veterans.