Rachel Meltzer

Plimpton Associate Professor of Planning and Urban Economics

Rachel Meltzer is the Plimpton Associate Professor of Planning and Urban Economics at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. Her research is broadly concerned with urban economies and how market and policy forces can shape disparate outcomes across neighborhoods.  She focuses on issues related to economic development, housing, land use, and local public finance.

Dr. Meltzer’s current research explores how economic and institutional “shocks” impact retail and commercial activity and real estate markets in urban neighborhoods. These “shocks” range from gentrification to the introduction of broadband to Superstorm Sandy.  Dr. Meltzer is also interested in the private provision of public goods, and she has explored a number of questions related to Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and Homeowners Associations (HOAs) about their formation and impacts on housing markets and public services. In addition, she has conducted extensive research on Inclusionary Zoning, an alternative to traditional methods of providing affordable housing, including its impact on local housing markets and the political economy behind the adoption of such policies.

Her work sits at the intersection of urban economics and planning and has been published in top policy, economics and urban planning and studies journals.  Dr. Meltzer’s research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, Social Science Research Council, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Kauffman Foundation.

Prior to joining the GSD, Dr. Meltzer was Associate Professor of Urban Policy and Chair of the Public and Urban Policy M.S. Degree program at the Milano School of Policy, Management and Environment at The New School, where, for over a decade, she taught in the core policy analysis curriculum.  Out of that teaching experience, Dr. Meltzer authored the textbook, Policy Analysis as Problem Solving (Routledge 2018), with her New School colleague, Alex Schwartz.  She has also taught classes on quantitative methods, urban economic development and public finance.

Dr. Meltzer is a Research Affiliate at the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University. Prior to her academic career, she worked as a Mortgage Officer and Project Manager for the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, where she managed the financing and rehabilitation of affordable housing. Dr. Meltzer earned her doctorate in Public Policy and M.P.A. from the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University and a B.A. in Psychology and Mathematics from Dartmouth College.