How to create meaningful and lasting change in state government

By Heather Hahn and Ria Amin  ::  January 21st, 2015

A few years ago, the worst government social service offices in Illinois had rodents, broken lights, and piles of paper so massive that staff literally could not see over them. Needy families seeking help from these offices faced long wait times, lost mail, and unanswered phones. Since then, the Illinois Department of Human Services has [...]

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Projecting our country’s demographic future: The truth may be stranger than fiction

By Kait Hildner  ::  January 21st, 2015

For months, my colleagues and I worked to build a population projection tool called Mapping America’s Futures. As we reviewed the results from different assumptions, we came across some implausible outcomes. Was there a problem in the coding, in the assumptions? Can the population of a commuting zone, for example, really grow to 1.5 times [...]

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Four impacts of the Federal Housing Administration's premium cut

By Karan Kaul and Bing Bai  ::  January 21st, 2015

President Obama’s recent announcement that mortgage insurance premiums for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgages will decrease from 1.35 percent to 0.85 percent is welcome news for prospective FHA borrowers. This half-a-percentage-point reduction is particularly meaningful because it comes as mortgage rates are once again approaching record lows. The potential for cost savings and the resulting [...]

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Thinking about our country's demographic future: Projections and policy

By Pam Blumenthal  ::  January 20th, 2015

In the last two weeks, President Obama has identified several new policies to address national challenges, such as making mortgage loans more affordable by lowering FHA premiums and increasing access to education by offering free tuition at community colleges. Immigration reform is occurring through administrative action while the potential for legislative action continues. These and [...]

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We're live-tweeting tonight’s State of the Union address. Join us!

By Nicole Levins  ::  January 20th, 2015

The state of the union is… a great time to get on social media and talk about policy. Tonight at 9pm ET, join @urbaninstitute and a number of our policy experts as we live-tweet President Obama’s State of the Union address. Watch the conversation unfold below, and share your own thoughts on Twitter using the [...]

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Why the human trafficking case against Signal International matters

By Colleen Owens and Kate Villarreal  ::  January 16th, 2015

A trial involving one of the biggest human trafficking cases in US history kicked off in a New Orleans federal court this week. Workers allege that Signal International, a US Gulf Coast shipbuilding company, recruited them from India with false promises and then forced them to live in fenced-in labor camps and work for little [...]

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Should we worry about buying some of these?

Two economists debate whether the Federal budget deficit matters

By Howard Gleckman  ::  January 15th, 2015

This post originally appeared on TaxVox, the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center’s blog. Do deficits, or at least currently projected deficits, matter? It is an age-old question that’s going to get renewed attention in a Congress where Republicans have made no secret of their desire to cut government spending. Of course, cutting spending is not the same thing [...]

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Obtaining a mortgage loan: How do we know if it's too hard, too easy, or just about right?

By Maia Woluchem and Taz George  ::  January 12th, 2015

Policymakers count on a wide range of measures to gauge the state of the housing and mortgage markets, but when it comes to the availability of credit, are we as precise as we can be? Given the many recent steps to increase access to mortgage lending, credit availability is at the center of housing finance [...]

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One in fifteen children in the DC metro area are linguistically isolated

By Julia Gelatt and Will Monson  ::  January 7th, 2015

The DC metro area is home to almost 177,000 children living in households headed by a parent who is limited English proficient (LEP), defined as speaking English “less than very well.” And almost half of those kids—about 85,000—live in a linguistically isolated household, where everyone age 15 and older is LEP. Kids in linguistically isolated [...]

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