McCabe's research focuses on several urban policy issues, including low-income housing assistance, municipal campaign finance, and historic preservation in American cities. He has written extensively on housing and homeownership policies in his first book, No Place Like Home: Wealth, Community, and the Politics of Homeownership. McCabe is currently working on two large, multi-year projects. The first is an evaluation of Seattle's recent public campaign financing program, the Democracy Voucher program; the second is an analysis of the way local housing authorities distribute vouchers through the Housing Choice Voucher program, McCabe has spent the spring 2018 semester as a Visiting Scholar at the University of Washington.
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Examines whether homeowners engage more actively in local politics than renters.
Examines patterns of representational distortions in financing the 2013 municipal election in Seattle. Finds that campaigns are overwhelmingly funded by wealthy donors in a small subset of Seattle neighborhoods.
Examines the impact of historic preservation on patterns of neighborhood change in New York City.
Challenges long-standing notions about the civic benefits of homeownership. Argues that homeowners, in an effort to protect their property values, often engage in the communities in ways that reinforce patterns of economic and racial segregation.