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Senior Research Associate - Urban Planning and Land Use

The Urban Institute
Washington, DC
United States
Professional Areas: 
Community Engagement
Land-Use Management
Urban Design
Zoning Administration
Experience Level: 
AICP Certification: 
Not required

Who we are:

At the nonprofit Urban Institute, we believe in the power of evidence to improve lives and strengthen communities. Public policies work best when they are rooted in facts, and our research sparks solutions in programs and practice. Our analyses and recommendations help expand opportunities for all people, reduce hardship among the most vulnerable, and strengthen the fiscal health and effectiveness of government.

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. 

How you’ll contribute:

The Metropolitan Housing and Communities Center is seeking a talented senior research associate who can lead teams and work collaboratively with Urban’s Research to Action Lab, our Technology and Data Science team, and other centers to build knowledge and inform policies that shape housing markets, housing availability, and housing costs. The ideal candidate will bring a solid track record of studying one or more of the following: urban planning, housing markets, land use and zoning, building codes, rent regulations, tax policy related to housing, and racial and economic segregation. The candidate should also have significant experience with housing datasets and expertise in advanced quantitative methods for housing market analysis.

This position will be expected to support ongoing work, contribute to business development to further build the research portfolio, and serve as principal investigator or task lead for future studies.


  • Conceptualize, develop, and lead research and evaluation studies related to the impact of state and local housing regulations on housing supply and affordability.
  • Partner with data scientists and research technologists to develop and explore new data sources and analytic methodologies.
  • Provide intellectual leadership in project development.
  • Lead the development of proposals, responses to solicitations, and other meaningful business cultivation activities. This includes leading proposal efforts and managing proposal teams, as well as possessing the skills and qualifications crucial to the performance of proposed work.
  • Support effective project management, including assigning roles and responsibilities; managing project team performance; monitoring project progress, budget and schedule; and designing and implementing analysis strategies.
  • Oversee quality control and ensure accuracy of data management and analysis, including the ability to supervise research assistants and analyst programming in at least one of the following languages: R, Python, STATA, or SAS.
  • Mentor and supervise research staff.
  • Author research reports, briefs, and presentations for external audiences.
  • Represent both Urban and the policy center’s work to the public, policymakers, funders, and the press.

What you’ll bring:

The successful candidate will

  • Be creative, intellectually curious, communicate well, and have excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Possess an MPP, MUP or PhD in urban planning, public policy, economics, or related social science field as well as 5-10 years of related professional experience.
  • Demonstrate relevant substantive knowledge, a solid understanding of various research methods, particularly quantitative analytic approaches (e.g. econometric modeling and predictive analytics), and the writing skills needed to perform the duties described above.
  • Have knowledge of data science methods – including at least one of the following: big data analytics, advanced spatial analysis techniques, machine learning, natural language processing, or web scraping.
  • Serve as an expert and exhibit high-level oral and written communication skills.
  • Exhibit high ability in leading and contributing to research agendas and successful business development efforts.
  • Display strong management skills, including experience supervising staff and managing project teams to achieve desired outcomes.

What you’ll experience:

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.

In addition, 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.

Published on:
November 21, 2019 - 2:29pm
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