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Hilary Botein's research explores the factors that influence urban development, with special attention to the social politics of policies and programs underlying affordable housing and community development. She also is interested in how housing programs can meet the needs of vulnerable populations – and in how they fail. Prior to her academic career, she worked for eighteen years as an attorney and policy analyst on affordable housing and economic justice issues, primarily in New York City.
She received her Ph.D. from the Division of Urban Planning at Columbia University, her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law, and her B.A. from Swarthmore College.