Publications

  • Research Area: Affordable & Subsidized Housing ×
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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The Potential Costs to Public Engagement of HUD’s Assessment of Fair Housing Delay

    In January 2018, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it would extend the deadlines by which local governments and public housing authorities receiving federal housing and urban development funds must submit Assessments of Fair Housing (AFHs), and allow jurisdictions to continue to file Analysis of Impediments (AIs) instead. HUD justified the delay by noting that of the first 49 AFH initial submissions, HUD initially did not accept 35% of the submissions. Many observers, however, believed that the initial submissions were superior to the AIs they replaced. To evaluate one important aspect of the AFH and AI processes, the NYU Furman Center compared the public engagement involved in the AIs and AFHs filed by 19 of the 28 jurisdictions who were first to file under the new AFH requirements. The authors find that the public engagement processes used under the AFH requirement were much more robust than the most recent AIs the jurisdictions had filed along five distinct dimensions: the number of opportunities for public engagement; the inclusiveness of those opportunities; the provision of data for assessing public engagement; documentation and consideration of the public input; and existence of cross-jurisdictional or cross-sector engagement.

  • 21st Century SROs: Can Small Housing Units Help Meet the Need for Affordable Housing in New York City?

    This brief explores the potential demand for smaller, cheaper units to help address New York City’s affordable housing need. It considers the feasibility of self-contained micro units as well as efficiency units with shared kitchens and/or baths. The report considers the economics of building and operating small units and models their financial feasibility. It concludes by analyzing the main barriers to the creation of small units that exist in New York City and suggesting possible reforms that New York City can make to address these barriers.

  • 21st Century SROs: Can Small Housing Units Help Meet the Need for Affordable Housing in New York City?

    Single-room occupancy housing (SROs) used to be a readily available affordable housing type in New York City. During the second half of the 20th century, many SROs came to serve as housing of last resort, and mounting criticism of SROs led to laws banning their construction and discouraging their operation. Today, New York City faces a significant housing affordability crisis. In this context, it is worth considering whether the city needs an updated housing model that helps meet the need SROs filled in the last century. Here we analyze the benefits, risks, and challenges of reintroducing small housing units (self-contained micro units and efficiency units with shared facilities) in order to shed light on whether and how a new small-unit model could help meet the demand for affordable housing in the city today.

  • How Do Small Area FMRs Affect the Location and Number of Units Affordable to Voucher Holders?

    This brief explores how the location and number of homes affordable to voucher holders will change in the 24 metro areas mandated by HUD to adopt Small Area Fair Market Rents (“Small Area FMRs”). The change to Small Area FMR—a more localized rent measures as a determinant of subsidy standards—is designed to allow housing choice voucher holders to rent homes in a wider variety of areas. The analysis finds that switching to Small Area FMRs would open up options for voucher holders in high-rent ZIP Codes while reducing them in low-rent ZIP Codes. In addition, the aggregate number of units affordable to voucher holders in these 24 metros would increase with the use of Small Area FMRs.  

  • What Do We Know About Housing Choice Vouchers?

    Four decades after its creation, the Housing Choice Voucher Program is the largest low-income housing subsidy program managed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This literature review covers what we know and don’t know about the Housing Choice Voucher Program. 

    Research shows that vouchers reduce the rent burdens of low-income households, allow them to live in less crowded homes, and help them to avoid homelessness. The program has been less successful, however, in getting recipients to better neighborhoods and schools, and perhaps the greatest disappointment of the program is its limited reach. Families wait for years in most places to receive a voucher, and only one in four households eligible for a voucher nationally receives any federal housing assistance. Further, a significant minority 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 much to learn about its operation and how we might improve it.

  • Katherine M. O’Regan Testimony to U.S. Senate Committee on Finance Hearing on Affordable Housing

    On Tuesday, August 1, 2017, Dr. Katherine O’Regan, faculty of NYU Wagner and Faculty Director at the NYU Furman Center, testified at the United State Senate Committee on Finance’s hearing entitled, “America’s Affordable Housing Crisis: Challenges and Solutions.” Dr. O’Regan’s statement outlines the extent of the nation’s affordable housing crisis and its consequences for households and markets. In discussing the federal government’s role in responding to the crisis, she discusses three proposed reforms to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit to “increase its flexibility and feasibility in a broader set of market conditions, to streamline, and to more effectively meet key policy goals.” Read Dr. O'Regan's full statement or watch a video of the hearing.

  • Housing in the U.S. Floodplains

    This brief, presented in conjuction with FloodzoneData.us describes characteristics about the housing stock located in the U.S. floodplains.  Between 2011 and 2015, five percent of all occupied housing units in the United States were located in the 100-year floodplain, and 10 percent were located in combined (100- and 500-year) floodplains. The brief details factors that are important to understand when assessing the risk from flooding and the challenges of retrofitting, including the shares that are rental and owner-occupied, the age of the housing, and whether the housing is government subsidized. 

  • The Effects of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)

    The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program is the largest federal subsidy for the development and preservation of affordable housing. Since it was established by the Tax Reform Act of 1986, LIHTC has financed the development and preservation of more than 2.1 million units in over 28,000 developments across the country. As federal tax reform looms, however, there is growing uncertainty surrounding the future of LIHTC. In contemplation of debate about these possible changes, this brief explores what we know about who LIHTC serves and what research has shown about the impact of the program.