Housing Solutions Lab

Helping cities plan, launch, and evaluate equitable housing policies

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About the Lab

The Housing Solutions Lab at the NYU Furman Center helps small and midsize cities plan, launch, and evaluate evidence-based local housing policies that advance racial equity; increase access to opportunity; and improve long-term health and wellbeing for residents. Support for the Housing Solutions Lab is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Take an interactive tour of the Lab’s work, and learn about its major initiatives and accomplishments since launching in June 2021.

Why we work with small and midsize cities

While housing needs in larger and coastal cities receive the most national attention, small and midsize cities—those with populations between 50,000 and 500,000—face their own array of complex housing challenges—from disinvestment and concentrated poverty to housing instability and affordability gaps.

Small and midsize cities are ripe for innovation. Smaller cities can be more nimble and less encumbered by bureaucracy than their large city peers, and better able to engage higher levels of leadership, gain visibility for promising strategies, and build trust and engagement with the wider community. But they are also less likely to benefit from the philanthropic and corporate support present in larger places, or have the necessary staffing, resources, and access to data, best practice or specialized expertise needed to develop and implement effective housing responses.

The unaffordability of rental housing in these cities disproportionately affects people of color, who are more likely to be renters, and gaps in homeownership rates between white, Black and Latino households—already substantial in large cities—are even wider in small and midsize cities.

Learn more about why we focus on small and midsize cities.

Working with the Lab

The Lab offers an array of housing policy resources, data tools, and analysis on its Local Housing Solutions website, and on Lab Notes, the Lab’s blog. We also engage city leaders in peer learning opportunities, provide access to data about local housing and neighborhood conditions, conduct rigorous research and evaluations, and connect cities with technical assistance to help further their housing policy goals. The Lab is always looking for new opportunities to collaborate with and support local government leaders, researchers, and other local housing stakeholders to pursue equitable, evidence-based housing policy goals.

City representatives can contact us directly for more information about the Lab, or with housing data or policy questions, and can sign up for our mailing list for information about events, peer network opportunities, and publications.

Our guiding principles

The Lab’s work elevates strategies for meaningful community engagement and civic leadership in policy development and centers resident voice and priorities. Our approach also considers the nexus between housing and other policy areas, including education, health, and economic and community development, by encouraging collaboration across government agencies, with nonprofit organizations, and with other community stakeholders.

Team

The Lab is an interdisciplinary team of housing research and policy experts housed at the NYU Furman Center. NYU Furman Center is a joint initiative of the NYU School of Law and Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

Martha Galvez

Martha Galvez is the Executive Director of the Housing Solutions Lab. Her expertise is in housing and homelessness policy, with a focus on policies and programs that strengthen housing stability and neighborhood choice for low-income families. She has experience in mixed-methods research, and has designed and led studies involving complex administrative, survey, and qualitative data. Prior to joining the Lab, she was a Principal Research Associate at the Urban Institute. 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. Galvez earned an undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in Urban Planning and PhD in public policy and administration from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University.

Vicki Been

Vicki Been is the Edward Weinfeld Professor of Law at NYU School of Law, an Affiliated Professor of Public Policy of the NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and Faculty Director at NYU Furman Center. She returned to NYU in January 2022, after serving for two years as Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development for the City of New York. She has done extensive research on New York City’s land use patterns, inclusionary zoning, historic preservation, the interplay of community benefit agreements with land use practices, and on a variety of affordable housing and land use policies, including gentrification, mortgage foreclosure, racial and economic integration, and the effects of supportive housing developments on their neighbors. She is the co-author of a leading land use casebook, Land Use Controls. Vicki is a 1983 graduate of New York University School of Law, where she was a Root-Tilden Scholar. She clerked for Judge Edward Weinfeld of the Southern District of New York and for Justice Harry Blackmun of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Ingrid Gould Ellen Lab

Ingrid Gould Ellen is the Paulette Goddard Professor of Urban Policy and Planning at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and Faculty Director of the NYU Furman Center. Her research centers on neighborhoods, housing, and residential segregation. Ingrid is the co-editor of The Dream Revisited: Contemporary Debates About Housing, Segregation, and Opportunity (Columbia University Press, 2018). She is also the author of Sharing America’s Neighborhoods: The Prospects for Stable Racial Integration (Harvard University Press, 2000) and editor of How to House the Homeless (Russell Sage Foundation, 2010). She attended Harvard University, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics, an M.P.P., and a Ph.D. in Public Policy.

Katherine O'Regan Lab

Katherine O’Regan is Professor of Public Policy and Planning and Faculty Director of NYU’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. She spent April, 2014 through January, 2017 in the Obama Administration, serving as the Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Her primary research interests are at the intersection of poverty and space—the conditions and fortunes of poor neighborhoods and those who live in them. Her recent research includes work on a wide variety of affordable housing topics, from whether the Low Income Tax Credit contributes to increased economic and racial segregation, to whether the presence of housing voucher households contributes to neighborhood crime. Her board work includes serving on the board of the Reinvestment Fund, one of the largest community development financial institutions in the U.S. She holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California at Berkeley and spent ten years teaching at the Yale School of Management prior to joining the Wagner faculty in 2000.

Claudia Aiken picture

Claudia Aiken is the Director of New Research Partnerships at the NYU Furman Center and Housing Solutions Lab. Previously, Claudia was Director of the Housing Initiative at Penn based at the University of Pennsylvania, where she led research focused on rental assistance program design and impacts, and on ethnoracial disparities in access to housing programs. She has served as a consultant in multiple municipal housing planning processes, including in Philadelphia and Cleveland. Claudia holds a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania and Bachelor’s degrees in Urban and Environmental Planning and French from the University of Virginia. She has also studied urban planning in Stuttgart, Germany, and Lyon, France.

aisha_balogun

Aisha Balogun is the Special Projects Associate with the Housing Solutions Lab at the NYU Furman Center. She joins the Lab after serving as a Graduate Research Assistant with the Furman Center, where she supported a qualitative analysis of a financial counseling program for low-income renters. Prior to her time with the Furman Center, Aisha worked with the Moving Forward Network to bolster community-led advocacy by creating educational materials for environmental justice groups. Motivated by her work with grassroots groups and larger social organizations, Aisha strives to bridge the gap between institutions and communities to co-create solutions for housing affordability and urban inequality. Aisha holds a Master of Urban Planning from NYU Wagner and a dual B.S./B.A. in Engineering (Architectural Design) and Sociology from Stanford University.

Alisa Hartwell is the Data and Research Analyst at the Housing Solutions Lab. Before joining the Furman Center, she analyzed data for a homelessness prevention program based in Brooklyn and Staten Island, interned at University of Chicago’s Crime and Education Lab in New York, and served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member for a volunteer mobilizer in Boston. Alisa obtained her B.A. in Economics from Smith College and a M.S. in Data Analytics and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University.

Ellie Lochhead

Ellie Lochhead is a doctoral student at NYU Wagner and a doctoral fellow at the Furman Center. Her research interests are in urban economics and housing policy with a particular focus on understanding policy responses that can alleviate housing challenges faced by the lowest-income renters. She holds an M.S. in Economics and Urban Planning from Tufts University and a B.A. in Economics and Public Policy from the University of Denver. Prior to the doctoral program, she worked as a Pre-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Furman Center.

Jim Reisinger

Jim Reisinger is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Housing Solutions Lab. He is an applied microeconomist and holds a PhD from the Harvard Kennedy School and a BA from Georgetown University. His independent research explores the historical determinants of racial inequities. Previously he worked with Princeton University and the Busara Center for Behavioral Economics on poverty alleviation program evaluations in East Africa.

Camille Watson is Director of Strategy and Policy, leading the Lab’s strategic direction and cross-sector policy initiatives. She is interested in the intersection of health, neighborhoods and housing. Prior to joining the Furman Center, she led policy projects on social determinants of child health at the American Academy of Pediatrics, with a focus on poverty and inequality. At Health Care for All (MA), she advocated for cross-sector policy reforms and investments to reduce health disparities. She has also managed community-based research in public housing developments. She earned her Master’s degree from the Harvard University School of Public Health.

Jess Wunsch is the Director of City Engagement at the Housing Solutions Lab. Prior to joining the Furman Center, she was a policy analyst at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy where she supported the Legacy Cities Initiative, a national network of local leaders from post-industrial cities working to increase access to opportunity and improve quality of life for residents. She also served as a Hatfield Fellow at the Oregon Department of Housing and Community Services where she focused on improving foreclosure prevention programs and has held several local government roles in San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Greensboro, North Carolina. Her primary interests include innovative approaches to housing and land use policy and the role of community-based research in informing public decision making. She holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Ithaca College and MPP and MURP degrees from the University of Michigan.

Claudia Zequeira is the LHS Manager at the Housing Solutions Lab. Before joining the Lab, she was an editor at Ana G. Méndez University and a Senior News Writer at Valencia College in Central Florida. In a previous chapter of her career, she worked as a journalist for several daily newspapers, including El Diario/La Prensa in New York City and the Los Angeles Times, where she covered politics and general assignments. More recently, she covered education for the Orlando Sentinel, Central Florida’s largest newspaper. Claudia holds a B.A. in Art History from Hunter College and an M.A. in Career and Technical Education from the University of Central Florida. She is passionate about higher learning and sharing complex ideas in approachable ways. 

Steering committee

Rosanne Haggerty, Community Solutions
Kristin Hyser, Broomfield Housing Authority
Monique King-Viehland, Urban Institute
Lauren Lowery, National League of Cities
Cy Richardson, National Urban League

Job opportunities

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