Critical Value is a podcast from the Urban Institute that explores issues of significance for research, policy, and people. We talk with experts and highlight the best available data and evidence to elevate the debate on topics that matter.
What policies could better lead to financial security for all Americans? Host Justin Milner discusses airhorn-worthy solutions like universal basic income, guaranteed jobs, and revamping social insurance with researchers Caroline Ratcliffe and Caleb Quakenbush.
The class of 2019 is facing an ever-changing job market. How can we best prepare people with the skills they’ll need to join the workforce of tomorrow? And how do we figure out which skills employers actually want? Urban Institute researcher Shayne Spaulding and host Justin Milner discuss a reimagined postsecondary education and training system that would provide people with what they need throughout their entire working lives.
What role can philanthropy play in making cities more equitable, so that people have a real say in how dollars flow into their communities? Host Justin Milner discusses philanthropy’s increasingly central role with Rip Rapson, president of the Kresge Foundation.
How Denver Is Breaking the Homelessness-Jail Cycle, Part 2
Denver, Colorado adopted an uncommon approach, called pay for success, to address chronic homelessness. In the second of two episodes, host Justin Milner discusses how this collaborative project is playing out on the ground – and explores the evidence to see if it’s working.
How Denver Is Breaking the Homelessness-Jail Cycle, Part I
Denver, Colorado is tackling chronic homelessness in an innovative way. The city is bringing together service providers, city officials, and others to focus on a single goal: getting people who are chronically homeless into housing and off the streets for good. In the first of two episodes, host Justin Milner takes a close look at this unique approach.
If you have been listening to the news lately, three words may have jumped out at you: Green New Deal. So what’s it all about? In this episode, host Justin Milner talks with Urban Institute experts Carlos Martín and Christin Durham about what we know and don’t know about this proposal and how the evidence can play into the discussion.
The US economy seems to be in good health, but wealth inequality is something we continue to talk a lot about these days. In a return to an episode from last year, host Justin Milner talks to Urban Institute expert Signe-Mary McKernan about the growing gap between rich and poor and the difference between wealth and income.
In late 2018, Congress passed the first major criminal justice reform legislation in nearly a decade. So what is the First Step Act, and how will it impact the federal prison population? Host Justin Milner talks with researchers Nancy La Vigne and Julie Samuels from Urban’s Justice Policy Center and Matthew Charles, who has spent years studying sentencing law and is one of the first people to be released from prison thanks to the First Step Act.
People are now working longer and later in life – but new research shows that older workers are increasingly pushed out of longtime jobs. Host Justin Milner sits down with retirement expert Richard Johnson and ProPublica contributing reporter Peter Gosselin to talk about the landscape of the labor market and barriers facing older workers.
Over the past few decades, people have been spending more time in prison, and the lengthiest prison terms have been getting even longer. In a return to our first-ever episode, host Justin Milner sits down with researcher Ryan King to discuss the policies behind the problem. This episode features the voices of people who have served long prison terms, through audio excerpts from Urban’s interactive feature “A Matter of Time.”
Year-end giving is a big deal to nonprofits around the country -- but the landscape of charitable giving is changing, as technology and social media in particular are making giving easier than ever. Host Justin Milner sits down with Shena Ashley and Brice McKeever of Urban's Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy to talk about creating a culture of giving that educates and engages everyone around the issues they're most passionate about.
Neighborhoods with high rates of gun violence also tend to be dealing with high rates of poverty and limited opportunity – and these systemic challenges can have long-term impacts. Host Justin Milner talks with researchers Jocelyn Fontaine and Elsa Falkenburger about the challenges facing communities that struggle with gun violence, and a starting point for creating policies that are community-driven and trauma-informed.
The Amazon Opportunity: Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity
This week’s Amazon HQ2 announcement represents a unique opportunity for the Washington region. Host Justin Milner talks with Urban Institute president Sarah Rosen Wartell and senior vice president Margery Turner about how best to take advantage of the moment and catalyze collaboration across the DC region to ensure inclusive growth that benefits all people across the income spectrum.
The idea of “big data” can seem daunting -- but it has the potential to solve some of the big problems facing our country. Host Justin Milner speaks with Graham MacDonald, Khuloud Odeh, and Jessica Kelly from Urban’s tech and data team about how big data is analyzed and interpreted and how it can help inform the world we live in for the better.
The US is the wealthiest country in the world, but many Americans are still struggling to make ends meet. How can building credit and saving money lead to greater opportunity? Host Justin Milner speaks with Urban Institute Nittoli fellow Ricki Lowitz and senior fellow Caroline Ratcliffe about the path to good financial health.
These days, it can seem like buying a home is becoming increasingly impossible for young people. But homeownership still matters when it comes to building wealth, and there are supports out there to help. Host Justin Milner talks with housing finance policy expert Laurie Goodman and communications expert Sheryl Pardo to break down the major obstacles to homeownership.
With the creation of the Bezos Day One Fund, Amazon’s founder committed $2 billion to alleviate family homelessness and create and operate preschools in low-income areas. Host Justin Milner speaks with experts Mary Cunningham and Erica Greenberg about how to move the needle when addressing these two critical areas of need.
Opportunity Zones have the potential to make a huge economic impact on disinvested communities across the country. Host Justin Milner speaks with researchers Brett Theodos and Brady Meixell on how this brand-new economic development initiative works, and how we’ll know if it’s truly successful.
'The Children Are Our Future': Trends in Public Spending on Kids
Evidence shows that investing in children today can decrease poverty for the next generation of adults. Host Justin Milner speaks with researchers Heather Hahn and Cary Lou about the federal government’s current spending on kids, future projections for this spending, and what that means for America’s children.
How are lawmakers using evidence-based policymaking to ensure that taxpayer resources fund the most efficient and effective interventions? Host Justin Milner speaks with experts Demetra Nightingale and Ron Haskins about making decisions and crafting policy based on what’s been proven to work.
As Amazon conducts its search for a new corporate headquarters, cities are offering huge tax incentives to win over the retail giant – and ultimately stimulate local development. But are these tax incentives truly effective? What tradeoffs are state and local governments making in these deals? Host Justin Milner speaks with state and local finance researcher Megan Randall to get a full picture of the economic and social effects of winning an Amazon bid.
In the US, where we live determines a lot about our lives – from the quality of education to the types of work opportunities available. How did we develop such wide disparities in access to opportunity? And what can we do to better support upward mobility in all communities? Host Justin Milner talks with urban policy and development experts Margery Turner and Solomon Greene about the status quo and how we can change it.
How can we dramatically increase mobility from poverty in the United States? Nisha Patel, executive director of the US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty at the Urban Institute, has spent the past few years trying to answer this question. Host Justin Milner chats with Nisha about her research and what kinds of interventions are possible to make real, lasting progress against persistent poverty in America.
Economic growth doesn’t affect everyone in a city equally. Some populations experience great prosperity, while others get left out. But what if that’s not the narrative we have to buy into? Host Justin Milner speaks with Erika Poethig, head of the Urban Institute’s Research to Action Lab, about a new path forward for cities called “inclusive recovery.”
Mapping Police Violence: A Q&A with Samuel Sinyangwe
If you don’t know Samuel Sinyangwe’s name, you definitely know his work. He is one of the creators of Mapping Police Violence, the most comprehensive database of people killed by police in the US since 2013. In this live conversation with Urban Institute staff, Sinyangwe discusses his approach to activism and research.
The opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug crisis in American history, and it demands a multifaceted response. This week, we focus on one crucial facet: medical treatments for opioid addiction, including buprenorphine and methadone. These drugs are proven to help people in recovery—so why aren’t they reaching everyone who needs them? Host Justin Milner talks to health policy expert Lisa Clemans-Cope about the evidence behind these treatments, the barriers to access, and the evolution of the opioid crisis
April 11 marks the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, which banned race-based housing discrimination in America. Yet today the goals of this landmark civil rights law remain largely unrealized, and the gap between black and white homeownership persists. This week, host Justin Milner talks to housing finance policy expert Alanna McCargo about why black homeownership has stalled and what can be done about it.
It's that time of year again. With the April 17 filing deadline fast approaching, we take a closer look at the transfer of benefits through the US tax system. Host Justin Milner talks to tax policy expert Elaine Maag about how the American household has changed, how the tax code hasn't, and what families can expect from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
The US economy seems to be in good health, but wealth inequality hasn't improved in the past 50 years. Host Justin Milner talks to Urban Institute expert Signe-Mary McKernan about the growing gap between rich and poor and the difference between wealth and income.
The recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made dramatic, permanent changes to business taxation. Host Justin Milner chats with Mark Mazur, director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, to understand how businesses are affected by the new law.
On Monday the President released his much-anticipated budget request to Congress for 2019, and just last week he signed a budget deal from Congress that set spending levels for the next two years. How do these two items interact, and how will they affect government spending? Host Justin Milner speaks with three Urban Institute experts to unpack all the moving parts.
Support for single-payer health care is at an all-time high in the US. But what does it mean to have a single-payer system, and how would it work? Justin Milner talks to health policy expert Linda Blumberg about the details and trade-offs that would matter most in a single-payer plan.
From the hurricanes in Puerto Rico and Texas to the wildfires in California, the US faced disaster after disaster in 2017. Host Justin Milner sits down with Carlos Martín, an Urban Institute senior fellow, to discuss why these devastating events are happening so often and how federal, state, and local governments can better prepare for them.
Over the past few decades, people have been spending more time in prison, and the lengthiest prison terms have been getting even longer. Host Justin Milner sits down with Ryan King, an Urban Institute senior fellow, to discuss the policies behind the problem.