Publications

  • Neighbors and networks: The role of social interactions on the residential choices of housing choice voucher holders

    This study considers the role of information and social influence in determining the effective set of potential housing choices for participants in the Housing Choice Voucher Program. It finds that pairs of voucher participants in close proximity are 40% more likely to move to the same neighborhood than pairs that live more than 1,000 feet apart, and that the neighborhoods selected by close proximity pairs are likely to be more economically disadvantaged by several measures. These findings were magnified in tight rental markets, and in highly segregated cities.

  • Housing and Educational Opportunity: Characteristics of Local Schools Near Families with Federal Housing Assistance

    This report focuses on access to neighborhood elementary schools, highlighting disparities between families living in subsidized housing and those who do not. It describes the characteristics of the local public elementary schools to which children living in subsidized housing have access, including their student demographics, teacher characteristics and relative proficiency rates. The report shows that that families receiving all four major types of federal housing assistance lived near lower performing and higher poverty schools than other poor families with children as well as other renters with children.

  • City NIMBYs

    This article published in the Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law explores the growing trend of opposition to development in cities. It describes the academic discussions to date focused on growing opposition to development in cities, reviews the known impact of opposition and regulatory barriers to development, explores the potential impact of creating additional barriers to development, and proposes factors that may explain the growing opposition to development in cities. In conclusion, the report discusses what the underlying causes of opposition to development reveal about the differences between suburban and city-focused Nimbyism, and suggests research and policy analysis that might help land-use decision makers respond more effectively to opposition to development in cities.

  • What Do We Know About Housing Choice Vouchers?

    The Housing Choice Voucher Program provides assistance to approximately 2.2 million households each year, making it the largest low-income housing subsidy program managed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This paper reviews what we know about the program. In brief, experimental research shows that vouchers help to reduce the rent burdens of low-income households, allow them to live in less crowded homes, and minimize the risk of homelessness. Research also shows, however, that the program has been far less successful in getting recipients to better neighborhoods and schools. And perhaps the greatest disappointment of the program is its limited reach. Families typically wait for years to receive a voucher, and only one in four households eligible for a voucher nationally receives any federal rental housing assistance. Another issue is that a significant share of households who receive vouchers never use them, in part because of the difficulty of finding willing landlords with acceptable units. Thus, as effective as the program is, there is still room for improvement.

  • A Pilot Community Health Worker Program in Subsidized Housing: The Health + Housing Project

    We examine the implementation of a community health worker (CHW) program in subsidized housing, describe needs identified and priorities set by residents, and summarize participant-reported outcomes.

  • Valuing Urban Land: Comparing the use of Teardown and Vacant Land Sales

    This study explores the use of “teardown” sales to estimate the value of urban land. When a buyer purchases a property intending to tear down the existing structure and rebuild, the value of land can potentially be estimated as the purchase price plus demolition costs. There has been little exploration of teardown sales in cities around the country, or any explicit comparisons between the estimates of land values derived from teardown sales and those derived through vacant land sales. This paper undertakes just such an explicit comparison, analyzing approximately 3800 teardown sales and 4900 vacant land sales occurring in New York City between 2003 and 2009. The two approaches yield surprisingly similar estimates of the value of both parcel attributes and locational amenities. However, vacant parcels are disproportionately located in very distressed neighborhoods and tend to be valued less highly than teardown parcels, even in the same neighborhood. Teardown parcels appear to be more representative of the city as a whole and may be a more useful approach to developing estimates of land prices, at least in the central cities of large urban areas where sample sizes are large enough.

  • Race and the City

    This paper provides the introduction to the special issue on Race and the City in the Journal of Housing Economics in 2018. The paper surveys relevant topics on racial and ethnic discrimination and residential segregation, and provides a more detailed discussion of the specific papers in the special issue. The paper primarily focuses on the literatures on discrimination in housing, on-line markets and policing. In terms of racial segregation, the paper discusses work related to the pattern of residential segregation and the causes and consequences of segregation

  • Points for Place: Can State Governments Shape Siting Patterns of Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Developments?

    There is considerable controversy about the allocation of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). Some charge that credits are disproportionately allocated to developments in poor, minority neighborhoods without additional investments and thereby reinforcing patterns of poverty concentration and racial segregation. We examine whether Qualified Allocation Plans, which outline the selection criteria states use when awarding credits, can serve as an effective tool for directing credits to higher opportunity neighborhoods (or neighborhoods that offer a rich set of resources, such as high-performing schools and access to jobs) for states wishing to do so. To answer this question, we study changes in the location criteria outlined in allocation plans for 20 different states across the country between 2002 and 2010, and observe the degree to which those modifications are associated with changes in the poverty rates and racial composition of the neighborhoods where developments awarded tax credits are located. We find evidence that changes to allocation plans that prioritize higher opportunity neighborhoods are associated with increases in the share of credits allocated to housing units in lower poverty neighborhoods and reductions in the share allocated to those in predominantly minority neighborhoods. This analysis provides the first source of empirical evidence that state allocation plans can shape LIHTC siting patterns.

  • Gateway to Opportunity? Disparities in Neighborhood Conditions Among Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Residents

    A key goal of housing assistance programs is to help lower income households reach neighborhoods of opportunity. Studies have described the degree to which Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) developments are located in high-opportunity neighborhoods, but our focus is on how neighborhood outcomes vary across different subsets of LIHTC residents. We also examine whether LIHTC households are better able to reach certain types of neighborhood opportunities. Specifically, we use new data on LIHTC tenants in 12 states along with eight measures of neighborhood opportunity. We find that compared with other rental units, LIHTC units are located in neighborhoods with higher poverty rates, weaker labor markets, more polluted environments, and lower performing schools, but better transit access. We also find that compared with other LIHTC tenants, poor and minority tenants live in neighborhoods that are significantly more disadvantaged.

  • Airbnb Usage Across New York City Neighborhoods: Geographic Patterns and Regulatory Implications

    This paper offers new empirical evidence about actual Airbnb usage patterns and how they vary across neighborhoods in New York City. We combine unique, census-tract level data from Airbnb with neighborhood asking rent data from Zillow and administrative, census, and social media data on neighborhoods. We find that as usage has grown over time, Airbnb listings have become more geographically dispersed, although centrality remains an important predictor of listing location. Neighborhoods with more modest median household incomes have also grown in popularity, and disproportionately feature “private room” listings (compared to “entire home” listings). We find that compared to long-term rentals, short-term rentals do not appear to be as profitable as many assume, and they have become relatively less profitable over our time period. Additionally, short-term rentals appear most profitable relative to long-term rentals in outlying, middle-income neighborhoods. Our findings contribute to an ongoing regulatory conversation catalyzed by the rapid growth in the short-term rental market, and we conclude by bringing an economic lens to varying approaches proposed to target and address externalities that may arise in this market.