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.
No matter your role with Urban, you will contribute to meaningful work that makes a difference for people and communities across the country. And whether you call the Washington, DC area or elsewhere home, you can expect to be part of a welcoming and hybrid workplace. We are committed to cultivating a community and working in a manner defined by collaboration, equity, inclusivity, independence, and integrity.
Urban's greatest asset is our people.
Urban is committed to supporting our staff's physical, emotional, and financial well-being through a robust benefits package for yourself, eligible dependents, and domestic partners. It includes generous paid time off, including nine federal holidays, medical (including prescription), dental and vision insurance, and transit benefits. Urban is unique in that we offer 403(b) retirement plan participation immediately after you're hired and a generous employer contribution after five months of service and 1,000 hours, with immediate vesting. You'll also have access to a health advocate, personal finance coaching, an Employee Assistance Program, and educational assistance for undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
As a federal contractor, Urban will comply with Executive Order (EO) 14042 that requires federal contractors, subcontractors, and their respective employees to comply with Covid-19 vaccinations. All Urban Institute employees must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by Januray 18, 2022, and comply with masking and distancing requirements, regardless of responsibilities or work location. New hires must also be fully vaccinated before starting work. Employees may request exemption from vaccination against COVID-19 based on either a medical condition or a sincerely held religious belief that prevents them from being vaccinated. Where such an exemption is approved, Urban will discuss with each employee potential accommodation.
The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of the work being performed by the people assigned. This posting is not an exhaustive list of all duties, responsibilities, and requirements. Urban management reserves the right to amend and change duties, responsibilities, and requirements to meet business and organizational needs as necessary.
The Urban Institute is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace. All qualified candidates will receive consideration without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, gender or gender identity, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, veteran status, pregnancy or family responsibilities, matriculation, disability, political affiliation, or any other protected status under applicable law.
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