Student Fellowship

Achieving Equity Through Housing Innovation and Economic Development

Project Area:

Affordable Housing & Community Development


Boise, ID

Reporting to:

City Data Strategist

The Challenge

In recent years, Boise has seen the largest decline in housing affordability of any metro area in the country. To address this challenge, Boise recently created a city land trust, loosened restrictions on Accessory Dwelling Units, and passed a housing bonus ordinance. The city leadership wants to continue to find other innovative strategies that would improve housing affordability. The city is also embarking on a strategic planning process for economic development to be completed this summer, which will be implemented over the next 3-5 years. They would like a fellow to help with both efforts–innovations to improve housing affordability, and informing how they should measure success in their implementation efforts to achieve inclusive economic growth post-COVID. Low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by rising housing costs, and those same communities are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 from both a health and financial perspective. This project aims to address both issues concurrently. The mayor sees housing innovation work and economic development as two sides to the same strategic planning coin, and the city leadership recognizes it cannot be successful in either area unless it applies an equity and inclusivity lens to its approach. The fellow will be advancing bodies of work that are core to the mayor’s strategic priorities.

What You’ll Do

The fellow will be expected to:

  1. Assist in defining performance metrics to track progress against the city’s strategic planning goals for equitable economic recovery and development. Ultimately, the city wants a set of performance metrics that challenge the city to meet its inclusive economic growth goals and a way to visualize progress on them regularly, using data visualization best practices.
  2. The fellow will support ongoing cross-departmental work on affordable housing innovation as part of the Bloomberg Harvard Innovation Track, which is helping cities engage residents in testing, adapting, and scaling creative ideas to address complex challenges. The student will become an integral part of this team and be deeply involved in the following tasks:
    •  Prototype building, crafting actionable testing plans, and analyzing resident testing feedback to improve prototypes.
    •  Augmenting and deepening the impact measurement framework to clearly define impact goals, related tracking metrics, and input/output analysis.
    •  Developing an actionable plan for the final portfolio of initiatives, building a long-term work proposal, helping identify city "leads" for the     various initiatives, and determining the measurable impact goals and associated tracking plan for the larger portfolio.

What You’ll Bring

  • Design thinking skills, especially prototyping and iterative design
  • Policy research and analysis skills
  • Data analysis and performance management skills
  • Familiarity with housing policy
  • Knowledge of the green economy – helpful, but not required
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