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Addressing the Housing Needs of Small and Midsize Cities

The New York University Furman Center has launched the Housing Solutions Lab, a new initiative to help cities to plan, implement and evaluate promising local housing policies that advance racial equity, increase opportunity, and improve health and well-being for local residents.

The Housing Solutions Lab will work with small and midsize cities (those with populations between 50,000 and 500,000) to advance innovative, evidence-based housing solutions that promote equity and community voice.

The Housing Solutions Lab provides the following services to cities:

  • Policy and Data Analysis: Helping cities to use data to design, adapt and monitor local housing programs and policies
  • Policy Evaluations: Developing and conducting research and evaluations to examine the effectiveness of local housing policies and programs
  • Technical Assistance: Assisting cities with real-time policy and program implementation
  • Peer Support: Facilitating connections between city leaders to foster shared learning, support, and innovation
  • Dissemination: Collaborating with localities to develop and disseminate policy products that highlight successful strategies and outcomes

“Some of the most exciting and innovative housing policies in this moment are emerging from small and midsize cities,” said Ingrid Gould Ellen, Faculty Director of the NYU Furman Center. “With the Lab, we will be able to work in partnership with local community leaders and public officials to help hone these policies and provide a national platform to disseminate successful solutions that will benefit communities of all sizes. Through rigorous evaluation studies of city policies, the Lab will help to build this evidence base for policymakers, practitioners, and community advocates across the country.”

The Lab will be led by Dr. Martha Galvez, who joins the team after eight years at the Urban Institute, where she most recently served as Principal Research Associate. She has also held policy and research positions in several state and local research organizations, including the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services' Research and Data Analysis division, the West Coast Poverty Center at the University of Washington, the Seattle Housing Authority, the New York City Department of Small Business Services, and the New York City Citizens Housing and Planning Council.

The Lab builds on its experience facilitating the inaugural Housing Solutions Lab Peer Cities Network. The cohort of seven small and mid-size cities convene monthly to share best practices and to discuss common housing policy challenges, such as navigating the distribution of billions of dollars in emergency rental assistance. Launched in fall of 2020, the inaugural group includes city officials from Arlington, Texas; Boulder, Colorado; Cleveland, Ohio; Jackson, Mississippi; Oakland, California; Pittsburgh; and Syracuse, New York. The Lab will continue to host housing policy peer networks with cities across the country to foster shared learning and innovation among city leaders.

“Through our first Housing Solutions peer network, we’ve gained valuable insights into the ways that small and mid-size cities are tackling housing instability and a variety of other concerns, particularly during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Galvez. “Working with the network cities has helped lay the foundation for our new Housing Solutions Lab, which will help identify successful policy solutions, provide additional technical assistance to cities, and document what works.”

The Lab is led by an interdisciplinary team from the NYU Furman Center with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

About Author: Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck has 20-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry, he most recently served as Editor-in-Chief for The Mortgage Press and National Mortgage Professional Magazine. Peck graduated from the New York Institute of Technology where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage space. Peck has edited three published books and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.
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